BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

By the way ...

Those of you without school-age kids or government jobs might not realize this is a long weekend ... but we were faced with having our two lovely offspring with us from mid-day Friday through Monday, and have had to "take steps" for the retention of what little sanity we have left around here. The Wife convinced me that we should rent a car for the weekend, and so began my "tale of traumas", which I'm sure will need additional telling come Tuesday.

The Girls, as regular readers of this space no doubt recall, are involved in Martial Arts, and have classes twice a week, on some mix of Friday evening, Saturday mid-day, or Monday evening. This is a scheduling factoid in my life that colors every weekend. Since I am a cheap bastard we decided that the only sensible approach to getting a rental car for the weekend was to find some place that was participating in Enterprises' "$9.95/day" weekend promotion. Now, being that this IS Chicago and not sweet little Outer Podunk, most Enterprise offices have opted out of these deeply-discounted rates, I was, however, able to find one that I could get to on the El (near the Belmont stop on the Blue Line), and got a reservation there.

I'm still not sure if it was some sort of hallucination on my part, or just terminal incompetence on the part of the CTA, but my "plans" for getting the car were way into Burns' "aft agley" territory from the get-go. I had figured that I would wait for the #70 Division bus (which conveniently stops a block behind our builiding) for about 5-10 minutes, and it would take (depending on traffic) about 10-15 minutes to get from her over to the Blue Line stop at Division/Ashland/Milwaukee, and then about another 10-15 minutes to go from Division up to Belmont on the Blue Line. The Girls' dojo classes start at 4:45 on Friday, so I figured that if I left at 3pm, I'd have the car by 4pm, swing downtown, pick them up, and be back up at dojo (Lincoln/Lawrence/Western) in time for class.

Well, I stood (in the rain, of course) for a half an hour waiting for the #70 (which typically runs, as noted above, every 5-10 minutes), before grabbing a cab down to the Thompson Center in the Loop (where I could pick up the Blue Line). So, at this point. I'm 40 minutes off schedule (and $6 over budget), but I figure I hop on the train and I might still make it. Hah. It took 20 minutes for the northbound Blue Line to show up (with 3 or 4 southbounds blowing by us in that time), and when it did show up, it was totally packed. So, I'm an hour late, and in the tunnel (so calling home was not happening). When we finally get out to where I could call, I convince The Wife to take Daughter #1, and all their gear, and go up to Daughter #2's daycare, and I'll pick them up there. Only, I hadn't counted on our having a break-down at the California stop ... due to the train still being packed at that point, some guy hadn't been able to push his way to the doors while they were still open, and yanked on the emergency door release to get off there. Somehow this screwed up the doors, and it took another 20 minutes for the driver (we were in the last car) to figure out that was the problem. So, we eventually get to Belmont, and I'm on the streets looking for this Enterprise location, the better part of an hour later than I had anticipated being there.

Of course, where things are and where Mapquest thinks they ought to be frequently have divergent realities, and the "main intersection" there is where 90/94 crosses Belmont and Kedzie, so (having a 12-lane interstate with assorted on and off ramps over-laid on the grid) things are not as simple as they seem on the map ... add 15 minutes to walk what should have been 4 blocks.

I guess I was lucky that somebody was just dropping off a car (Chevy Impala) after I got there, as it appeared that they were otherwise out of vehicles, giving me what I've found is the not infrequent "it's the only thing we have" Enterprise upgrade. Of course, at this point it's pretty much 4:30, so we're fucked on getting the girls to class, and I head downtown, hoping to at least make it to #2's daycare before they closed.

The Wife was pissed that she had dragged The Girl's dojo stuff "all the way up there" (neglecting the fact that I'm constantly dragging this stuff around for their classes) and was half angling to at least get to dojo for #2's class (which starts on Fridays after #1's), but we opted to go over to Home Depot instead. The Wife has a list of projects that she wants to have done (guess who gets to do them) around here and we were looking at the possibilities of these up there. One of the things she wants is some sort of a screen to block off parts of rooms (in the vain hope that the kids or the cat will respect the boundary if she's trying to get some work done). Since we couldn't find one at Home Depot we then checked another 3-4 stores over there in the North/Sheffield shopping grounds. Found some screens at Cost Plus, but they were pricey for what they were so we just went home.

Today, The Wife decided to use the car to get the groceries this morning, allowing us to take off once we'd unloaded everything (as opposed to sit around waiting for the delivery). We still had to rush to make it up to dojo ... but we got there and The Wife was able to go drop stuff at Salvation Army and then do some shopping (lots of shopping, since she was over an hour late to pick up up!).

On a whim, after The Girls had their classes and were fed Happy Meals, The Wife suggested that we go bowling ... and found that the Lincoln Square Lanes were indeed open. This is "an urban treasure", an upstairs bowling alley (two floors over the Ace Hardware) that's straight out of the 1940's. I'd suggested that for the L.J. Meet-Up location previously, but had never made it up there myself, and I was surprised to find that it was in relatively good condition. They put The Girls on a "broken" lane (it more often than not required you to push reset to cycle it), which allowed them lots of extra shots, which gave them high scores (although #2 threw a fit because she didn't win ... coming in 1 pin behind her big sister). We played some pinball and then headed off shoe shopping.

Shoes ... The Wife has been on my case about shoes. I have a bad habit of falling asleep at my desk, and when I end up sleeping slumped in my chair here, my feet swell up like water balloons. When my feet get like that, it's hard to coax them into any "shoes" (I wear sandals all summer) and they don't "deflate" until I get 8-10 hours of sleep lying flat in a bed. The Wife wanted me to go get "special" swollen-feet shoes that I could wear to business meetings, etc., so we went to the "fat boy" clothes store up by dojo (which she'd insisted had shoes) and were directed to another place up in Andersonville. Fortunately, the shoes I ended up with were fine ... they weren't painfully expensive (and this is from a guy who won't pay PayLess prices unless they have a sale!) and were quite comfotable. The Girls (of course) also got shoes while we were there.

Anyway, much further shopping ensued ... we went to Menard's and solved The Wife's "screen" issue (although we haven't got the parts yet, we know what we are going to do for that now), she found some Xmas goodies for her relatives, and The Girls were amused by their large Haloween and Xmas decor sections. We made "one too many" trips, this one to Target, where Daughter #2 turned into The Monster, and I turned into the Cruel Disciplinarian. A trip to Taco Bell and Popeyes and home capped things off, with The Wife actually finding a close-by parking spot (we'll see if it's still there in the morning ... The Wife has a whole lot less respect for what is and what is not a legal parking spot than I have!). I crashed out in the living room watching TV, and woke up to come in here to write to you all (none of whom are no doubt still reading this).

Tomorrow The Wife is taking The Girls off for some suburban Pumpkin Patch (loaction TBD), allowing me to have a day of working, while I'll be taking them to The Enchanted Castle on Monday, to let her get some desk time. More scheduling chaos to ensue, since The Girls need to be at dojo by 4:30 and I need to have the car back to Enterprise (miles and miles away) by 4:00 and The Wife is disinclined to take The Girls to dojo via the El ... so we'll see what happens.

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