A Flag Day Friday


Happy Friday, Everyone! It’s a gorgeous day in here in Chicago, and I have not had any embarrassing sweat in unmentionable places in a week! Life is good!

Yes, it’s been a week since this great adventure began, and for the most part it has been good. Hit a bit of a snag yesterday when I was alerted that my card had been breached somewhere in Indiana and taken on a Home Depot shopping spree, but that’s just going to be a week of inconvenience as its investigated and put to rights. There’s nothing I can really do about it. Stuff happens.

The dogs are doing well and starting to settle into a routine. We had some issues with them having the runs yesterday, but things seem better today. My housing is in a precarious position with them, through no fault of their own, so if you have some good energy to send my way, send it! We just need this to hold until July 5th. I sit them down every morning before I leave for work and remind them, “I just need you to hold it together until the 5th, ok?”

Speaking of work, I’m tired again today. Not in a bad way, just in a ‘holy hell I’m old and tired’ kind of way. Yesterday was my first 16 hour day and it was ok! Two days a week, I work both day jobs and the bar, and then I work full weekend shifts at the bar. It’s a slog, but I also got my first invoice from my Illinois attorney yesterday, and it was five figures. So here we are. Necessary evils. I keep asking, but no one is dropping large sums of money in my Venmo or PayPal. As a result, this old heifer has to work.

Bartending in Chicago is a lot easier than Atlanta, I’ll tell you what. In Atlanta, people want mixed cocktails full of shit I’ve never even heard of. I would get asked for a Kier Royale a dozen times a night and I always wanted to yell, “Disgusting!”

Here? It’s slinging shots and beer. The most complicated thing I’ll have to make is a mojito. The drinking culture is a lot different up here. Atlanta is a nightlife culture, Chicago is a functioning alcoholic culture. Twice this week I went out to lunch at neighborhood pubs on different ends of the city, and each time the bar was full of drinkers at noon.

On a Monday and a Wednesday.

It’s culturally acceptable here to have your first drink at 11:30am, as long as it’s beer. You don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression or anything…you probably have to go back to work. This is one of those things I’m having reverse culture shock over, because I had totally forgotten about three beer lunches. Fuck Off Friday ™️ is scandalous because we start our weekend at lunch. Here they call that…lunch; days ending in ‘y’.

Scandalous. Atlanta could never.

So bartending here is simple. Draft beer, wine, and the occasional shot. It’s not that demanding, but I am not the spring chicken I once was, and a 16 hour day is harder than it used to be.

I do like not living my entire life in a car, though. Another thing I forgot is that you can literally walk everywhere in the summer. It’s nice to be outside and not catch on fire. I walked to the office this morning for the first time, and it was great! It’s going to be hard to give up this level of convenience when I go back to Atlanta.

Do I have to go back to Atlanta?

Yes. Next week between bar shifts.

I hate to even type this, but I don’t miss a thing about Atlanta. The only thing that gave me the merps was missing my Atlanta squad on Wednesday. The Chicago office is lovely. Everyone is super nice, I like what I’m doing, but it’s just not the magic we have in Atlanta. It’s a much more formal environment in Chicago, there’s a lot more people, and I’m not part of a team. I’m a one woman show. So on Wednesday after we all got back from lunch, I had a moment where I missed the guys congregating outside my office door roasting each other. That’s not going to happen here.

Well, I guess that’s what is going to keep me going back. There’s no replacing my old ladies.

I about died when I heard those dumbass scooters in Atlanta were being tested up here starting this weekend. It’s like the ghost of Ruth is wherever I go 😂. I don’t think they will catch on here, because we love our divvy bikes and you don’t have to cover that much land to need a scooter here. Also, the sidewalks are a bajillion times more crowded in Chicago versus Atlanta. How the hell are you going to maneuver a scooter? In the ‘Bike Lanes of Death’??? I have so many questions.

All of that to say, I hope they fail and stay in Atlanta.

Today is Flag Day. Always a weird day for me, because it’s the anniversary of my uncle’s death when I was a kid, and the beginning of my family imploding. Like the anniversary of my Dad’s death a few days ago, I have different thoughts about it this year. I always flash to the viewing and the traumatic things I saw there, but I have a different understanding of things this year.

My uncle was 39 when he died of complications from alcoholism. My father went through tremendous grief with that and the simultaneous grief over what was happening with us in the custody battle. By the time he was 40, he thought he was out of chances and gave up a bit.

We were at the rink my mother skated at (I always trained in different rinks) and her pictures are still on the wall. One when she was 29; another when she was 33. It wouldn’t be so soon after that last picture was taken, she, too, would give up.

I bring all of this up, because here I am about to be 40 and I can’t fathom giving up. I have bad days. Hell, yesterday was awful. Do I enjoy where I am right now? Nope. I am literally working four jobs at 40 years old because someone else wants to run my life. I will be pouring drinks on Friday night instead of drinking them. Do I get angry about it? YES. However, I have never once been like, “Pack it in! I am going to take to my bed and give up. It’s over.”

This especially hit me when I looked at that last picture of my mother on the wall Wednesday night. She was beautiful, but I heard every negative thing she ever said about herseif in my head looking at her. So much self loathing I didn’t see then, and I don’t see now. She is truly the most beautiful woman on that wall spanning 30 years of competition and spent her whole life talking herself out of it.

Three people close to me who were everything a lot of people wish they could be simply gave up when they were my age. It always makes me debate whether I learned to be different, or if I simply wasn’t born with that chip. Maybe it’s a little column A and a little column B. I don’t know. All I know, is that while this stage of my life isn’t how I would have chosen to live it, I just work with what I have. I don’t want to get out of bed sometimes, but I can’t imagine my kids looking at my picture on the wall in my home rink, or my books on Amazon, and saying to themselves, “Why did she give up?”

Because I was blessed with too much courage and will, I guess. I think I’m hot shit. I always have.

Anyway, I hope I can get some writing and podcasting done in the mornings this weekend before I head off to work. I can’t believe I’ve only been home for a week and I’m this busy already! I’ll take it. Never turn down the chance to have momentum. It really does matter.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Jennifer Gulbrandsen