I can barely write this, I'm so stressed. Husband has been away since last Wednesday (a 10 day sojourn by the time he gets back), the kids have been competing for the worst-cold-of-the-season award, oldest kid went to camp at 6am last week, middle one went straight off when oldest came back, and little one has been up about twice a night for a week coughing and sneezing. You could stand clocks on the bags under my eyes. In short, I'm knackered.
But the straw that has finally broken this camel's back was an article out last week in Forbes Magazine. (Don't go getting all impressed - I found the link on my MSN home page.) Chicago has just been ranked by Forbes as the most stressful place to live in the USA. Allow me to quote ver batim:
Chicago's rising unemployment rate, expensive gas, high population density and relatively poor air quality create a perfect storm of stress, according to measures we used to calculate the country's anxiety hot spots.
We beat New York City and Los Angeles! That can't be possible. Forbes reports that New York still has the worst population density, and LA has the worst air quality, but apparently its inhabitants are positively chillin' compared to us wound up Chicagoans. I am genuinely surprised at this because most Chicagoans you meet aren't like your stereotypical New Yorker (and I realize it's a stereotype before anyone gets their knickers in a twist). Chicagoans are really friendly, salt-of-the-earth outdoorsy folk. Granted, the taxi drivers are getting a little more aggressive and the car pool moms take a few liberties now and then, but this??
Why, only on Monday morning, I had a routine check up downtown and it was such a beautiful day I decided to walk the two plus miles home. My walk (on a perfect, low humidity, sunny day) took me up Michigan Avenue, along the beach, through Lincoln Park and past the zoo. What's so stressful about that?
There's only one blot on the horizon for me this week. On Friday afternoon I have to get middle son to a baseball practice about two miles up the road from here. It's literally one street all the way, but because of rush hour, it will take me about 45 minutes to do it. There's not enough time to come home, before I would have to set out to pick him up, so now I have to take the little one and come up with something to do with him for a couple of hours. The Ball & Chain lands at O'Hare at 6, and is insisting that he will be able to swing by and bring son home. What? You can't even get through Customs and Immigration in half an hour let alone to downtown Chicago.
I can hear some of you thinking that if I lived out in the middle of nowhere I would be able to do the baseball drop-off, go for a manicure, do the weekly shop and cook dinner for the other two before picking up again - but pause, friends. I have always maintained that the biggest stressor for me would be to be stuck out in some of the suburbs here. Chicago and the surrounding area is flat as a pancake, so there is very little natural beauty to my mind, unless you go in for plains that stretch to Colorado (literally). Given that I use my car about twice a week and rarely venture outside of my two mile walkable comfort zone, I'll take my chances with the stress levels here, which, as you've probably surmised by now, would exist even if we lived alone on Pluto.
Now where's that Valium.