Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh, that's just bloody great!

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.


  1. I always think that stress can increase anywhere, anytime, depending upon our own mental disposition. I can deal with most situations as well as the next man, but put a computer or printer problem in front of me and, oh, man, I could tear trees out of the ground with my bare hands, or, I could alternatively go and lie down in a darkened room.

    But, yeah, bustling traffic and crowds of folk can do it for some folk, I can see that.

  2. What does it matter what some survey says? Home is where the heart is and other such cliches spring to mind. Who cares what Forbes think if you love your environment. It sounds amazing to me! Sorry about your poorly children, my littlest has had a stinking cold, up twice a night thing. It's exhausting! Hope you manage a lie in when Ball and Chain gets home!

  3. Yes, stress can be in your life wherever you live, so that Forbes survey sounds rubbish if you ask me.
    I envy you living in Chicago. My nearest big city is Detroit, and that with all its problems surely would be far more stressful to live in! I love your city and as you talk about your walk I can imagine it. We've had a few gorgous long weekends there and I can't imagine that city making me stressed. My kids and the husband however, well, that's another story...!

  4. I'm really surprised that Chicago was ranked number 1 for stress. I was there last year for my gran's funeral (she was 101!) and I thought everyone seemed very...chilled. But maybe I was bamboozled by all the mid-west friendliness being originally an east coast gal.

    I so totally envy you your city living!

  5. Walking distance sounds great - traffic does not. Good luck with your manouvres today. I wish you reduced congestion (in every way!)

  6. Yes...... I agree with Stinking Billy. The biggest stress of my life is trying to fix computer problems or having to wait for son to call & help!
    Isn't Chicago known as the windy city? I would have thought the pollution would have blown away. I would hate to live too far from the city, myself!

  7. I don't know why but I always think of Chicago in "Some like it hot!" If it can feature in a great film like that then it must be a pretty good place to live in. Sorry to hear that you are all under the weather - hope you get better soon. (I must admit I'm reading the papers less and less...they always seem to invent "stress" stories.)

  8. I can totally understand your stress. My husband just arrived back from Europe, so for the last week I was alone with the kids and my tooth ache - as you read on by blog. Thanks for the supporting comment by the way. I couldn't sleep because of my own pain but I don't get the bags under my eyes. I become the 'scary mom', irritatted with every little thing.
    I wanted to live in the city but husband cannot travel the distance, so we ended up in one of the suburbs. We call it 'Pleasantville'. I would be glad to show it to you once, it's not that bad at all. No no no, it's not the city, I agree but it is 'pleasantville'.

  9. Yep Toni you were spot-on. Here I was thinking well move to Okieland then girl!

    I tell ya no way would I go back to the madness of my old life. Hope the kiddo's improve and your bags reduce.

  10. Hope B and C is back now and you can have a bit of a least the upside of being divorced is that I can (if my mental state allows it) have a peaceful time every other weekend! Lx

  11. I have to say I am with Stinkin Billy on the stress= technology problems. Photocopiers are the all time worst in my book.
    I think the person who wrote the Chicago stress article has clearly never been to Sunderland.

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  13. I agree that stress can find you anywhere, and as far as surveys are concerned: my town was ranked one of the worst places to live in Britain, then a year later, another survey ranked it as the number 2 BEST place to live in Britain. But then yet another survey claimed that the area I live in has the grumpiest people in Britain. Go figure.

    The good thing is, I found something funny to post about on each one of them.

    It's all in your point of view.

  14. And it makes good blog material whichever way you take it! :-)

  15. Do hope things are better - I'm sure they are by now, as I'm catching up rather belatedly. A bit of stress is good of course - keeps you on your toes - but staying on your toes can get stressful too... M xx


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