Zzyzx Rd.

“I’m only here for a while,

But patience is not my style,

And I’m so tired that I got to go.”

I first heard the song by Stone Sour 10 years ago while listening to the radio at my first job with someone very dear to me at the time. His demeanor seemed to fall while the song was playing, as if it brought back unpleasant memories. When the song had ended, I asked if something was wrong.

“After a friend took his life last year, I listened to this song over and over and over again, on repeat, curled up in a ball on my bed. I have never felt so hopeless.”

There could have been no possible way for me to understand exactly how he felt, or the depth of a darkness he now knew. I had known a few individuals in my life up until that point whose lives had been affected by a loved one who took their own life, but no one near or dear to me. I calmly shook my head and tried to understand the sadness he must feel each time the song played, or any time he was near something that reminded him of his friend. I tried, but it was similar to how someone feels when they are at a funeral and are not sure what to say- if anything at all.

My sister ended her life last August. I feel a sense of closure from the grief and despair. I have had time to grieve, to weep uncontrollably, to wonder why, to curse at God, to question why I did not check in on Sarah more often. I have battled guilt- an emotion that does not seem to accompany the griever when a life is taken by an unexpected tragedy or old age. No, that grief is of a different sort. Grief that goes hand in hand with guilt is a pain I do not wish on anyone, and I am very grateful for the many times those close to me have helped me excuse my guilt. But am I excused? I am not so sure.

Sarah’s situation was at least twofold. While she was currently being treated for a mental illness, she additionally became violent with the law in an incident towards the end of her life. This incident came hours after a threatened suicide attempt, when police arrived at her home. It was very clear that she needed to be admitted into the hands of those experienced in caring for the mentally ill, and this initiative was not taken by our law enforcement. In Milwaukee County, there are certain policies in place that allow state facilities to discharge individuals back to their homes- regardless of what their situation may be- while they are still in danger of taking their own lives. I have done research on the laws in the city of Milwaukee, and have even been contacted by a few social workers in the process. There are many gray areas as you can expect, chief among them being “we cannot hold an adult against their will.” How then, are we to force help upon someone who does not want to be help? I admit I do not have that answer, or even an idea of how we could arrive at a solution to that dilemma, but here is what I do know: the fight against suicide starts with us. 

At this point you may be asking what my point is. Well, it’s quite simple, really. If you have even the slightest hint that a loved one may be going through a depression, acknowledge the problem. Be kind. Be persistent. NEVER dismiss a suicidal act or word as a cry for attention or an empty threatAssure your loved one that they are never alone. I understand that my experience may differ from that of other individuals who have had a loved one end their own life, but I am speaking from my own experience. Sarah desperately needed help, and I knew it. I did nothing about it and brushed all of her issues under the rug because I thought she was being selfish when she would start drama at family gatherings, or that she was being inconsiderate when she would go for months without contacting anyone in our family. She needed someone to come to her. I had for so long dismissed her problems because she preferred to act as if nothing in the world bothered her, that she was not afraid of anything or anyone, when in reality she needed someone to just be there for her. To love her when she was the most unlovable, and to hold her hand when she was pushing you away. 

Along the same vein, everyone you meet is fighting a war you know nothing about. I have always liked to think of myself as a genuinely friendly person, but it is very much intentional now. Never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind “Hello, are you enjoying your day so far?”. What I am asking you to do is take notice of other people’s feelings. Pay attention. Be kind. Reach out. Your words may be exactly what someone is needing to hear. How could you possibly know if a stranger you’ve met or an acquaintance has been talked back down from the ledge? You couldn’t, so treat everyone with gentleness, respect, and kindness. I promise, you will not regret it. 

Each year, 700 individuals die from suicide, and an additional 5,500 are hospitalized due to self-inflicted injuries. That is just in Wisconsin.

Per year in the United States, 42,773 people take their own life. 117 per day. I am not excused. WE are not excused.

If you are interested in joining a growing force of people in our community in the fight against suicide, please contact me! The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Wisconsin chapter is holding its annual “Out of the Darkness” walk in Humboldt Park on October 2nd. When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

 *The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has advanced its efforts aimed at bringing awareness to the nation, and in this instance Milwaukee, as well as much-needed help to those suffering from a mental illness or a past suicide attempt. In Wisconsin, 50% of all people who ended their life had a known mental illness. The AFSP focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.*

Sources:

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/injury-prevention/suicideprevention.htm
http://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
http://afsp.org/chapter/afsp-wisconsin/

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To run or to drink coffee?!

Cheers to the Freakin’ Weekend!

In keeping with my goals for this year, I decided to check out a new place this morning (52 List Project goal!) while Mason is in preschool: Colectivo on Prospect Avenue on the East side of Milwaukee. When I crave coffee I typically stop at Colectivo on KK Avenue, but this place is very cozy as well.

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SEE?! 🙂

Yesterday Jeremy and I got fitted for new running shoes. It’s now or never (another 52 List Project goal). After trying on many different stability styles (I tend to overpronate quite badly when running or even walking), I settled on Nike Air Zoom Odyssey’s (here). I went down into the basement this morning to start my training on the treadmill, but it is folded up in a corner of the utility room (which illustrates pretty accurately how often we have used it) and no matter how hard I pulled I could not get it to fold down. So I unlaced my new kicks and got coffee instead. Pretty even if you ask me 😉

I am going to be using the Couch to 5K app to train. I am not the type of person who can just get out there and gauge my endurance on my own- I need direction. I have used this app before while we were living in Greendale, and got about halfway through it before the weather became bitterly cold and I was honestly too big of a wuss to run in it. I feel that this is the perfect time to start- when it is cold yet mild, and Spring will be here before we know it.

In other news, I was a bit conflicted the last few days. I spent the better portion of Wednesday and Thursday afternoon perfecting my resume and applying for all the administrative jobs I could find that remotely interested me, but my heart wasn’t in it. It’s not that I don’t miss the workforce because I do, but I am very nervous about making the wrong decision when it comes to my next job. I don’t want to job-hop. I want to be stable and work somewhere I can be valued and use my individual talents to the best of my ability. Somewhere that I can grow to love the way I loved Iron Block. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I have so much to give and I don’t want to waste it. Now that I understand how much a job can truly mean to me, I am going to find it hard to top it. Sigh. Stream of consciousness…

I hope everyone has a fantastic day!

xo

2.14-2.20

Week in Review

I have been thinking a lot about themes for this blog. Saturday seems like a perfect opportunity for me to review the week’s happenings in photos. This was my first full week with no employer! It’s very strange for me to put it that way, but I am adapting to a new “normal”.

I hope you all had a splendid week as well!

xo

 

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

I took off today. I finally cleaned the last of the mess in the kitchen from our 4th of July celebration.

Don’t judge me.

Anyway, after Mason’s bath, Liz Holtz and Charmaine joined Mason and I for one of our favorite Mommy-Has-A-Day-Off activities: spending time at the library. We usually rotate between 2 libraries- Greenfield and Central- and we decided on Central today since they aren’t as busy on early Friday afternoons, and also because they recently updated the entryway of the children’s center to a Where the Wild Things Are theme.

Liz, Charmaine, and I talked while Mason played with the train table and climbed the lighthouse. Being that he is a creature of habit, he enjoys consistency in the books we read at bedtime. That is my nice way of saying that we read the same. Damn. Books. Every. Night. For about 2 months. Sometimes 3. And then we switch. For the past month, the choices have been Bob the Builder and the Machine Team, A Book of Bedtime Prayers, Curious George and the Puppies, and Only One You.

So I gladly marched up to the counter with Mason to check out The Very Hungry Caterpillar, If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Gerald Mc Boing Boing. Yes. Variety. Pinch me.

After the library, we stopped at Grandpa’s store and had Subway for lunch. I cannot believe that after 18 years of friendship, Liz had never been to Grandpa’s store! Talk about an oversight on my part. I was all walking around like she knew where we were going, and when I asked her if she had ever been upstairs, she goes, “Rachel…I’ve never been here at all.” Needless to say, I was happy to show her around!

Charmaine and I had a mini yoga session while Mason napped. Today we focused on balance. It’s not until you try some of the (common) poses that you realize what terrible balance (not to mention horrible coordination) you possess. Yikes. But seriously, I feel wonderful afterwards. If anyone is looking for a yoga app, I HIGHLY recommend Yoga Studio. The sessions are guided with relaxing music and a woman on the screen demonstrating. Everything is organized by level of difficulty, and then broken down by area of focus: sun salutations, balance, strength, meditation, relaxation, yoga for runners, yoga for back pain, etc. Love it!!!

Now we wait for Daddy to get home. xo

little lovelies

Happy Sunday All!

I hope everyone had a stress-free weekend! I took a personal day on Friday, and my sister Charmaine and I took Mason to the central library in downtown MKE. It is hands down my favorite library in the city, and the craziest part about it is how it has not changed a bit since my mom used to take my sisters and I there on weekday afternoons. The children’s room is way rad; not only is it filled to the brim with books but there is elevated window seating with pillows, a puppet theater, a lego table, a wooden Thomas the Train set (similar to the one Mason has at home) and a lighthouse that little ones can climb up and overlook the room. And all the preschool moms said “amen”.

After a morning at the gym, my sisters and I spent the majority of the day yesterday preparing for Mason’s birthday party, which is taking place this evening. We have plenty of balloons and Thomas the Train decorations to go around! And a 1/2 sheet chocolate cake. I’m not sure which excites me more: the cake, or the limes and ginger beer in the fridge ready to be made into delicious moscow mules. Or perhaps I am most excited for the crazy karaoke-ing tonight?? I’m getting off topic 🙂

Below are my picks from the past week for the “little lovelies” list. Enjoy!

  • Anthropologie is a death trap for my wallet. Plain and simple. Come on now with this cat jewelry dish.
  • I am a sucker for leather. My favorite pieces would be my leather leggings and bomber jacket, but I would love to add this dress to the list. It is edgy and feminine.
  • This is a gorgeous ring!
  • I am on a quest. A quest to drink more water. Strawberry, lime, and cucumber flavored water sounds amazing!

Have a great afternoon, friends! xo

Salt. Rain. Sun.

I love Milwaukee. Then winter comes. I threaten to move and then quickly remember that I could not bring myself to actually move. At least not at this point in my life.

MKE is my home.

I have heard many people say that the residents in states where there are no “seasons” envy those of us in states that do. I can see where they would envy seasons, just not the shitty ones. And I don’t even mean winter as a whole. I just mean the whole chunk of time after the joy of the holidays have worn off between January 2nd and the beginning of April where all you can see for miles and miles are barren tree branches, dirty snow on the sides of the roads, and white powder on your vehicles and best suede boots, left over from the rock salt on the streets to ensure we don’t all kill ourselves on ice.

So much for getting a car wash last weekend. At least it took one layer of salt off.

Sigh. Seasons. I am getting antsy for the ones where Jer and I don’ fight over the thermostat. Well at least not regarding the fact that it is NOT warm enough in the house. Yeah, ok, Mr. Sleep-With-A-Wind-Tunnel-Sized-Box-Fan.

Yep, suffice it to say that here in Milwaukee, depending on what season you’re in (and sometimes not depending on… 2 years ago it was 70 degrees in December. Figure that one out.), you are sure to experience a wide array of temperatures and weather. One day we may all freeze to death in a polar vortex and the next I can feel my skin melting off.

Behold: my favorite things about each season (yes, even winter) in Milwaukee, WI.

spring

The smell of clean rain. Light jackets. Tulips blossoming. Storm windows raised. New life blooming.

summer

Spending every moment outside. Tan skin. Late nights. Daisy dukes. Grilling out. Biking adventures. Festivals. Fireworks.

fallBrightly colored leaves. Jeans and hoodies. Hot apple cider. Bonfires. Snuggling on the couch. Taking walks.

winter Freshly fallen snow. The moon reflecting off the snow. Peppermint hot chocolate. Cozy sweaters. Warm cats.

xo

American Estates Antiques and Collectibles

American Estates- Bay View, WI

American Estates- Bay View, WI

Everyone who knows me knows that I love antiques and collectibles. It’s in my blood. From the time I could understand what it meant, my Grandpa, Dad, and uncle were “Junk Pickers”. I didn’t know anyone else like them, and it was something I took pride in a very long time ago. I am not an expert by any means, but ask me how much your <Braves memorabilia, vintage Las Vegas ashtray, Iris and Herringbone glass set, Black Heritage postcard, Mickey Mouse freeze-e-pop set, Shirley Temple memorabilia> is worth, and I can give you a pretty good idea.

My Grandpa opened American Estates Antiques and Collectibles on KK Avenue in Bay View, WI 50 years ago. I have had the pleasure of experiencing 26 of them. The storefront is the room most people see, but there are many other places to explore. The basement looks like something straight out of a horror film. The attic is crumbling and there are many hallways and rooms to check out. The back room is piled floor to ceiling with 50 years of accumulated treasures. It is a building rich with history, and is very near and dear to my heart.

When my parents met, my Dad left his job at an insurance company to join my Grandpa on this adventure. Listening to Grandpa tell stories of the early days of his business is fascinating. Mansions in downtown Milwaukee were his playground. He would secure rights to enter some of the biggest and oldest homes around, purchasing brass hardware, terra cotta, glassware, and other pieces of the homes (He has such an abundance of brass that to this day, I sell the same brass doorknobs and backplates on Etsy and Ebay for up to $80 a set).

He also tells stories of all the interesting individuals who used to frequent his shop.. including Al McGuire! I remember when I was about 8 or so being quite curious about the eccentric people I would meet on a weekly basis. It doesn’t matter what decade we are in, there are no people on planet Earth quite as crazy as those involved in the antique world!

For instance…

There was a man (whose name escapes me) that used to come into the shop monthly and would purchase the entire storefront inventory. I remember coming in on a Saturday and seeing empty shelves and display cases, and my Grandpa would stock it all full again with merchandise from the back room. There was also Greg Filardo, who appeared on an episode of “American Pickers” recently, who owned a mansion in downtown Milwaukee and had millions… but ate McDonalds for lunch every day. There was “Arno”, who smoked more cigarettes in a single day then some people did in a month. He had wild fro-like hair, and he was missing front teeth. He died of cancer a couple years ago.

The most insane story my Grandpa has ever told would be the time he received a call from a woman responding to his newspaper ad back in the 70’s. She had read that he would “clean out” her home, and he agreed, thinking she meant clean it out of merchandise and purchase from her. When he arrived at her home, she was hysterical, and when he asked what was going on, she explained that she had called him to clean up a suicide scene. Her son had shot himself in the head in his room upstairs. He looked at her wide-eyed and explained that he was an antique dealer, he cleaned homes out when someone passed or had accumulated too much stuff. She begged him to help her. My Grandpa says that he called a few of his friends, they went out and got completely wasted, and then proceeded to go back to the woman’s house, and clean up her son’s room and body, brains and all. He said they were putting chunks of brain into plastic bags and wiping blood off the walls. He said he almost got sick. This story bothered me for a long time, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all that my Grandpa has seen and done!

Growing up at the store with my sisters and cousins is a life highlight for me. We spent every weekend there, exploring, creating, and breaking things. Looking back at pictures now is surreal to me, because it feels so incredibly long ago. I didn’t cherish who we were and what my family did for a living as much as I do now. As a young girl, I was far more interested in the antique dollhouse, dress-up clothes, and Uncle Jonesy’s famous snack tray: The Smorgasbord.

To this day, my Dad and Grandpa make house calls when someone asks that they stop by to check out their trash or treasures. As a child, a car ride with my Dad could mean that at any moment he could slam on the brakes and make a u-turn to check out a pile of junk abandoned in front of someones house or on the curb. They also still scope out estate sales in the area and ensure that they are first in line. I remember them leaving home at 3 in the morning to get the first ticket to the house, and then sleep in their trucks until the sale opened at 7. The things they could find in people’s homes would blow your mind. Things purchased for a quarter would sell for hundreds of dollars. One year my Dad found a Green Hornet pen in the original package that sold on Ebay for almost a thousand dollars. There was one estate sale in particular that had me and my sisters and cousins laughing for weeks and weeks because the whole house smelled like cat pee… and that would make sense considering the lady had 15 cats!

A more recent story that never fails to amaze me is the story of “the stolen carnival glass”. My Grandpa received a call from a man (lets call him Bob), who is interested in selling his entire inventory of carnival glass. Carnival glass is a molded glass with an iridescent surface shimmer. Intrigued, Grandpa headed over to the man’s home and was shocked by the amount of glass he had in his basement. Knowing what would ultimately be profited from the sales of all that glass, Grandpa offered him thousands of dollars for the whole lot, and Bob accepted. My entire family helped to transport the glass from Bob’s basement to the store, and it took almost a whole week. We got started on listing it all on Ebay right away, as there were many rare and valuable pieces. We sold quite a bit in the coming weeks, and hadn’t even scratched the surface. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to legal matters, but through a series of events, it turned out that the man who actually owned all the glass was in PRISON and knew full well its value. Bob had no right to sell it, and therefore police showed up to the store and confiscated every last piece. I have never seen my Grandpa more frustrated or angry than he was by the whole ordeal. It still hasn’t been completely sorted out. What a mess that was!

I could go on and on about all of our adventures at American Estates but I do have a point. Recently, Grandpa’s store was sold, and the woman who now owns it plans to turn it into an apartment complex. My heart aches when I think of how much I will miss the store, and how it will never belong to us again. I can’t imagine it not being in our family. It is inevitable that there are changes in life, but this one really, REALLY sucks. I feel like when the doors close for the last time, a chapter in my life closes, and I no longer get to “claim” the antique world as my own. It is part of my heritage, and it is very hard for me to see my second home turn from something rich with history and stories, to a modern living space. I am afraid that the antique world will no longer be a part of me anymore, and it is a shame that I didn’t realize sooner how much I love it and am passionate about it. It is a dream of mine to open an antique store of my own. I am not at a point in my life where this is a possibility, but if ever the time comes, I have an entire life’s worth of experience and family to guide me! For now, I will be content with my own small inventory of treasures, and my listings on Ebay and Etsy.

Thank you Grandpa, for teaching me the value of hard work, dedication, and passion! Thank you for the best hangout a kid could ask for! Thank you for every bit of knowledge you have given me. Thank you for teaching me honesty. Every piece in your shop has a story to tell, and one man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure!

xo