Saturday, May 29, 2021

Chicago notes: Trouble at home.

Part of going home is seeing the things you love, like the
Chagall windows at the Art Institute of Chicago.

    Austin bureau chief Caren Jeskey is back in Chicago, on the Northwest Side. But that doesn't mean everything is as it should be, yet. Her Saturday report:

                                         Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around
                                         once in a while, you could miss it.                
                                                                                 — Ferris Bueller.

     Ferris and his girlfriend Sloane stood before the stained glass window pictured here at the Art Institute of Chicago after being transformed by the art they took in that day. You may know that it was created by Marc Chagall, nee Moishe Shagal, whose montages have inspired so many of us over the years.
     A local filmmaker, Hart Ginsburg, says “the power of montage is to create a fluid experience where the heart can open, the mind can wander, and the imagination can run free, untethered by judgment or logic.” You can view Hart’s work at, and I recommend it. There you can enjoy short, beautiful film montages as well as other tools for inner growth and self-soothing.
                              If I create from the heart, nearly everything works;
                              if from the head, almost nothing.
                                                                       — Marc Chagall
     As I tumble back to Chicago looking for grounding, I discovered my new place near Elston & Milwaukee is under a very loud point of O’Hare’s flight path. Friends suggest “ear plugs!” “sound machines!” “you’ll get used to it!” They didn’t realize I have been wearing ear plugs, have two sound machine’s going, and also took hydroxyzine (which I do not like to do), and even so I get woken up at intervals throughout the night to the walls shaking and a big jet engine.
     I have not slept through one night since I moved in last Sunday. I’ve had to take today to just stop. I have decided to clear out— thank goodness I have not yet signed a lease. Given what’s happening I’ve taken today to just stop. I have learned over the years when things get this stressful the only thing to do is chose a different path rather than hammering over and over the same one.
     Watching my thoughts each time I woke up last night was a salve. “I don’t have to think about this right now. It’s time to rest,” I told myself. I put a sound meditation from Insight Timer on to soothe me back to sleep after one ominous rumble. The next time I woke up I caved and took more hydroxyzine (similar to Benadryl, but specifically for sleep).
     We would all prefer things to be peaceful and serene, but that’s not how life goes. Meditation is a tool I use to quiet my mind at the worst of times, and in the best of times. It’s a muscle that grows with use. The purpose of meditation is to find moments of respite from our active minds, and to become fully present in the moment. We often live in thoughts of the past and the future, which can exhaust us and prevents us from enjoying life as it is. Our thoughts can rob us of time. Sure, we have to set goals and solve problems to the best of our ability, but we can also immerse ourselves in the good things around us. Last night I spent hours with my nephew and recognized all along the way how grateful I was for this time with one of my favorite people.
     As Ram Dass says in his meditation called Imagine (available on YouTube; I like the one with music by Boreto), as long as we are locked into our thoughts we are always just one thought away from here. So as I sit here in the chilly apartment I will leave soon (once I figure out alternate lodging), I feel my cold feet in wool socks, cold hands and nose (my winter clothes are packed somewhere in a suitcase in my car), I decided to re-write this blog as a means of finding clarity. 
Pulling my mind out of the actions I will need to take, and instead placing fingers on keys and clicking away. As I told a client today, if we can get to a place of self-soothing and problem solving we will have more peace of mind. We are all getting older and one day will be in bed and we won’t get out. How will we feel OK through the natural process of life if we cannot feel OK when things really are, relatively, OK?
     According to the Mayo Clinic website, some of the benefits of meditation include reducing negative emotions, increasing imagination and creativity, increasing patience and tolerance, managing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, sleep problems, tension headaches, and more.
     I will now find my space heater if I can, take a hot bath, rest, and regroup. Be well and see you all next week.


  1. yes chicago is cold and loud, today. then tomorrow it can be warm and loud. or even that same afternoon. how did you forget? I love the buzz here. the hubbub . so much activity. the rumblings the sirens, the fireworks, gunshots . its tough to find a quiet niche in chi town , my town, unless your wealthy.

    I moved to 71st and woodlawn fro west town during the height of the pandemic. its actually nicer here. I hope you reacclimate before winter . best of luck, welcome back

    1. Thank you. I like the sounds around me now- neighbors doing Saturday things, and their converstations. The traffic on Milwaukee and Elston is constant and enjoyable. A place rattling and shaking all day and night? That one was new. And I agree about rental costs in Chicago. If money was not an object, I'd spend about $2,000 to have a place that's quiet, safe, has parking, in-unit laundry, and perhaps slightly away from the inevitable noisy neighbor.

  2. Hell, yeah...the only thing to do in your situation is to choose a different path. One that's not an ORD flight path. Where were you? I grew up ten miles from O'Hare, so the noise was not as much of a problem when they took off and headed east. When they came in from the east, you could see them lining up over Lake Michigan as they approached, one after another, in an endless procession.

    For almost thirty years now, I have been living 2.5 miles from touchdown on the main runway of Cleveland Hopkins airport. Air traffic is much lighter here since the Plague began, but the landing pattern passes right over my house. Sometimes you can almost count the rivets, especially on the large cargo planes that make their approaches several times a day.

    Even landings at airports produce a great deal of noise. But eventually, you get used to it. Human beings can get used to almost anything. Especially after they develop hearing loss, despite the soundproofing of their homes (courtesy of the FAA).

    As for freezing, you should have been thinking like a Chicagoan, and kept your winter clothing accessible. Chicago springs can go from 90s to 40s in a very short time, as I realized when I moved back from Florida. And it's been known to snow in May.

    Chicago landlords are not required to supply heat between May 1 and October 1, so if it gets cold early or late, you do what New York Jews do--yeshiva.

    1. Actually, June 1! :) True on the clothing though.


      She could have faced $500-$1000 daily fines.

      I also have a painful broken toe and it was cold and rainy, so harder to find my winter gear. I finally found some of it though, just in time to finally hear the heat kick on in here and also for warmer weather. Thanks for the reminder to be prepared for anything! In TX it's water, sunscreen, and a bit hat.

  3. I live directly & I do mean absolutely directly under the approach to that new northernmost runway at O'Hare.
    About 95% of the time, the planes are going inbound, west to O'Hare. But when the wind changes, they fly east & that's when they're noisier.
    I use a site called ADS-B Exchange to see what's flying & the planes are usually about at the altitude of 3,000 feet.
    Helicopters are much lower, maybe 1,000 feet.

  4. Just a heads up. Don't leave anything in your car. It will get stolen.

    1. Whoa! Hope not since most of my belongings are still in the car! I do have a parking spot with a camera, so maybe it's safer?

      I am planning to move out & new place has a garage. I better get on it.

  5. The O'Hare flight traffic/noise along the Irving Park/Foster corridor worsened after the runway reconfiguration back, what, seven years ago? Go further south down Central and you will find neighborhoods that are almost as pleasant but with minimal airplane noise. Being situated midway between ORD and MDW make for a surprisingly quiet location, as planes taking off from either airport are intentionally routed away from the other.

  6. Sorry that your arrival has been so unsettling, when you're just trying to settle in, Caren. Certainly wise and/or lucky to have not signed a lease before discovering your predicament.

    I'll second FME's warning. I left stuff in my car one time decades ago -- it was very late, raining hard and I'd just returned from a trip, so I thought I'd take a chance. My portable tape player, a few other things, and -- worst of all -- my camera were gone by the time I went out in the morning. These days, I debate whether or not to leave a tissue box in plain sight!

    I don't know if I could get used to the plane noise, or not. In the past, I got used to the El being behind the houses across the street, and to noisy radiators, which I had thought would drive me crazy. But I've certainly been amazed a few times by how loud those planes can be.

    Tidbit: there are 2 "Elston and Milwaukees" in town. One at the beginning of Elston, one at the end. Easy enough to figure out which one you mean. On the downside: evidently you can't stay there. On the upside: you're pretty close to Superdawg!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I walked to the Dawg on my first day! :)

    2. Obviously a woman of good taste! I will be back in town next week and will take the short walk to Portillos for a drenched Italian beef with hot giardenaria first thing. Hope you find quieter quarters soon, perhaps your system might adjust to Chicago's sounds in time.

  7. Interesting that most comments were about adjusting to life in Chicago while I thought the main theme was how meditation helped deal with it.
    Been do it "religiously" for about four years. the part about neuroplasticity sold me. Was worth a try. Neuroplasticity definitely happens. Life is much more tolerable and fun now.


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