Lost in the Land of Oz, Part 1

The other day I wrote a beautiful piece on loss. It may have been the best thing I’ve ever written. I had just watched Spike Lee’s Requiem in Four Acts on HBO, remembering Katrina. Rich was in Switzerland and I, of course, continue to be shell shocked by this move. I wrote from the heart and it was emotionally powerful and I also wrote from thirty years of professional life (a professional life I’ve lost, at least for the here and now.), witnessing people struggle with loss, so it was insightful.  It was about the grief you feel when you lose parts of yourself- family and home and ways that you define yourself in the world- and how that is such an individual experience, not relative and not comparable to anyone else’s loss. I was feeling guilty about all of the whining and complaining I’ve been doing, while really wanting for not much of anything, but also I was recognizing that it’s not a contest to see who leads the most Job-like existence. Despair is despair.

So I wrote this very good bit about that and then I unconsciously navigated away from the page and poof! It was gone. I cried a lot. Then because there was no one around to analyze and no one expected in the next day (or months), I self- analyzed that bit of finger tapping and figured that it really IS supposed to be my loss to bear, balance and bring perspective to and not necessarily something I need to keep sharing.

As long as I’m sharing, I wrote to Dan in an e-mail that this is one of three times in my life that I have experienced severe depression; the others, once post partum and once with divorce. Just so you know. I was writing to Dan about it because he too is struggling. He is away from the object of his affections as she studies in London for the year and he is moving to NYC to play jazz before continuing his Masters. And I wrote to him that he would feel better once he settled in and found some direction. That was a mother thing to say.

A bit later I was talking on the phone to a friend I had counseled over the years and she said, "Remember what you often said to us: ‘You won’t always feel this way. Be patient.’ " I said, " I can’t believe I dished out that pap for thirty years."
Then I got off the phone and said to myself, "Get over it."
So, where to begin. I have volumes to share with you. About this ungainly, over electrified, Escher-like house (you got that right, FC!) that is not yet a home. About life beyond my brick walled courtyard (note the new little sidebar picture) here in the land of Oz (WHERE did all these people come from?). About alleys and restaurants and pacing cats. And then there are the Starter People with their busy and interesting lives. The Florida bungalow which is under renovation in the middle of hurricane season.

I’ve decided to start posting daily, "There’s good news and then there’s bad news; which do you want first?" in an effort to find balance and humor in my current situation. I also think, for the moment, a better way to find balance is to step out of my world and visit elsewhere more routinely. I was headed in that direction when I read the Times for the first time in a month. That was the day Pluto got demoted. Believe me, when you’re already on shaky ground you don’t want to hear that the planets are no longer. So I backed off until Monday and that was when the crocodile guy died in the most freaky way possible. More terrible news. Today I’m going for the local scoop in Washington State, Asheville, Bloomington, rural routes of the South and, of course, I’ll swing by Big Dave’s neck of the woods to see what’s news in Tree Town. But first…


The Good News:

Our next door neighbors invited us over for a light supper and they’re really nice! Earlier in the day she took me over to meet the ladies of the Oz Park garden group and we tidied up the perennial beds of the Emerald City Gardens. Yes, there are beautiful parks and gardens here-both four houses and four blocks away. Over the next few days I’ll introduce you to Oz Park, named, of course, for Frank Baum who lived here and wrote The Wizard of Oz. The Lincoln Park Conservatory is a short ten minute walk from my front door and I’ll be taking you on detailed walks there, too. I took this picture the other day on a brief and daring foray beyond my own brick courtyard.City_garden

The Bad News:

I picked this house on an impulse. I no longer trust my impulses, which have historically been quite good and creative. Some kind of loose synapse was in play when I picked this townhome. For starters, I give you the main floor powder room, where the view is, ah, well… think about it for a minute. Talk about seriously negative Fung whatever.Bath

19 responses to “Lost in the Land of Oz, Part 1

  1. Wow, it’s about time. It’s nice to hear from you again. I think you told me to find something I love to do and find time to do it. I guess you did take your own advice – good job!

  2. Give your impulse time to work itself out. Never mind about the powder room, that park and those flowers are amazing and the sky is so blue there. I think going to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden did something to me. Infected me with a virus or something. I just cannot get enough of flowers and not just looking at them, but reading about them and knowing their “real” names and such. Hmm. Perhaps this is my version of my mom’s addiction to cookbooks.

    Speaking of restaurants or really great places to eat. (I reread that first paragraph and no, we were not speaking about restaurants; but let’s do.) It is called the Russian Tea Time and it is on Adams Street, just across and down from the Chicago Art Museum. You must go there!!! They blend their own tea, and it has a hint of blackberry or currant or something and is the most heavenly tea on the planet. I try to get some anytime we’ve been there. Take Rich. Take your neighbor. Even better, take a good book, get a table in the corner and an appetizer and hot tea and prepare to be enchanted. A sure remedy to chase away the blues. (And does wonders against that cold wind in winter)

    You have no idea how glad I am to see you back here. And I’ll tell Rhett that Sophie’s mom is back. He will be camping in my computer chair trying to get a glimpse of her sweet face now.

    Hooray! Hooray! You made my day!

  3. OK, I tried to do a link to the Russian Tea Time but it didn’t work. So here is their website:


  4. I’m sorry, but all I got from that was that you’ll be posting every day again and OMIGOSH I am SO EXCITED TO HEAR THAT!! I have missed your writing so much, and it’s been making me nuts to go weeks without hearing from you.

    I mean… you know… not that the rest of the stuff you said wasn’t cool and important and stuff…

    I’m just glad you’re back *hugs*

    (and please remember – there are many definitions of the word “home” and there’s a reason they call your personal website your “homepage”)

  5. I’m thinking that house was calling out for help, and you’re the best one who answered, so it picked you.

    cf velveteen rabbit syndrome > > http://www.fulcrummonkey.blogspot.com

  6. Vicki, welcome back. You have made me a happy woman today, by saying that you will be posting more regularly. Chicago is a pretty city; I haven’t been there in many years, but I know you will come to enjoy the many blessings there. That garden, for one, is a blessing, and I am glad to know your neighbor is taking you under her wing. You won’t have time to be depressed if you spend some time in the gardens. I read your comment to Angie, and I have to tell you that baby teeth are one thing I have never kept! So toss them out…LOL
    Your home looks very interesting, in the few photos you have posted of it. It may not feel like home for you, but I think it will eventually, so keep on keeping on (please). We need you here.

  7. You may be depressed, but this post gave me some really good laughs.

    If the post on grief was the best you’ve written it must have been fantastic.

  8. Oh goodness. Regular posts from an irregular (? – okay, not at ALL what I meant, but if it gives you a smile, I’ll leave it there… heh) friend/woman/lovely person. I am a happy camper. Thanks for visiting today. I may even celebrate the occasion by posting as well.

  9. Gee, and I haven’t even written about Ann Arbor in a while. Just between you and me, the Wolverines’ offense looks less than overpowering. But it’s early in the season. If we keep playing patsies like Vanderbilt, CMU and MSU, it’ll give us confidence.

    I’ve been to that Russian Tea Time restaurant (and I’ve only been to Chicago twice). It was okay, but I didn’t try the tea.

  10. Well, you see. Here’s the thing. I hurt, you hurt, we all stumble and fall and pick each other up because that’s what Big Ernie would do. THEN, when the time comes around to smile and hug and laugh like a hyena, we do that too. Win-win, dontcha think?

  11. Vicki, it is so good to hear from you. You left a comment on our blog today, and it made my day. When we bought our house here in Washington it was not my kind of house whatsoever. Very big, very modern, very bland. We’ve taken on the awesome responsibility of funkifying it. It definitely needs some serious funkification. We’re so intent on it that we’re literally ripping the siding off it and replacing it with cedar shingles. I want sun carvings everywhere, and funky bronze things in the front yard, a buddha in the back garden. What we realized though was that we needed to plant ourselves in the house as purposefully as we planted our garden. Little seeds at first, but they took, and we are making the house our home. It happens over time, but it does happen.

    I am so glad you are posting again. I’m not writing so much (at all actually), but I’m making up for my lack of words with photographs.

  12. The mirror would only be worse if it were in front. I always look better from a side profile, especially my thighs! I can totally understand why you would be emotionally fraught; so many important changes have happened in your life. Your Good Ship Lollypop has lost several of its rudders.

  13. Terrific Tin Man! Gorgeous gardens! Lovely lavoratory! Perhaps you are part crow, what with your penchant for shiny things, Vicki.

    …I’d be tender, I’d be gentle
    And awful sentimental
    Regarding love and art.
    I’d be friends with the sparrows
    And the boy that shoots the arrows
    If I only had a heart…

    I’m sorry your dear heart is heavy. Russian tea and Wolverine victories (AGAINST PATSIES LIKE MSU??!! – Them’s fightin’ words, Dave!) might do the trick. I shall keep you in my prayers, even though you didn’t visit me while you were in my state. :~(

  14. On Bernadette’s heels! A lovely place to be. The gardens look beautiful. The mirror is funny. Daily posting is very therapeutic for you AND for us.

  15. Rain Drops on Roses and Toilets with Mirrors…

    I’m so glad that one of my very favorite things is back in action.


  16. i’m glad to see you back as well. I read this post the other day, and I’m reading it again as I think about a move. Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog. I understand a little bit where you’re coming from with your despair and depression.

    When I retired from teaching, part of that which defined me was gone, and then when my husband was taken suddenly in an accident, another part of the definition was gone, and I had to find out all over again just where I fit and who I was.

    Time doesn’t heal the wounds, but the distance from it helps to dull the hurt. At least, that is what I’ve found.

    I first started reading your blog when you were in St. Pete, and have read regularly even though I’ve rarely commented. Thanks again.

  17. By the way, I love the white background and the big print…so much easier to read.

  18. By the way, I love the white background and the big print…so much easier to read.

  19. Hi Sweetie,

    I am so sorry you are lost in Oz. And I wish I could come to you– but I have a mad proposal for you. Come down to St. Louis for Karl’s wedding on Sept 23. Take the train. We will surprise him. He will love it, you and I can hang out and get weepy and silly drunk, you can stay with us, and we’ll stick you back on the train the next day.

    Come down. It will be grand.

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