Carson’s

My brother Brian and I will most likely be the last generation of our family to work at Carson’s.

A few weeks ago, their owners Bon Ton announced that they are closing down all their stores permanently, including Carson’s.

We both were third generation of our family to work at the well-known Chicagoland department store. While I worked in the Men’s Department, first in Accessories and Dress Shirts, then in Slacks and Dockers — no snide remarks, I heard them enough when I worked there and would say, “I work in Men’s Slacks and Dockers” — and my brother worked in stock distribution, of the three generations of Facks who worked at Carson’s, our Dad had reached the highest out of all of us: furniture buyer.

The first job I ever knew Dad had was working for Carson’s on State Street in downtown Chicago. At the time I didn’t appreciate it, but the wrought iron facade of the Louis Sullivan building was an architectural masterpiece, both of early high-rises and of city architecture, of which Chicago reigns as Queen (if not King).
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I Don’t Wanna Grow Up…

Toys R Us from 70s Commercial
I think anyone raised in America around my age knows how to complete that jingle.

(For those of you not in the know, you finish it with, “I’m a Toys R Us kid.”)

It seems to be the end of an era. The toy store that was a major destination for American kids (in at least the 70s and 80s) is closing its doors.
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Avoidance of Feelings

Yesterday in my counselling session, we spoke about how I tend to speed up when talking a lot of the time. Of course, most of the time I don’t actually know when I am doing this, but it is something I have done for most of my life. This isn’t the first time we have spoken about it, and lately, I have been trying to be very conscious of slowing down my speaking and pausing between when someone else talks to gather my response and then reply. (It sounds like it’s a long process, but it is still pretty quick.)

My mind can work in this fashion too. It throws out a million things at once to distract me from the here-and-now and what I am really feeling. Both the speeding up of talking and the multipronged thought processes are away I have learned to avoid what I am feeling. It is rather automatic now.

Something like this takes time to unlearn. I may never fully unlearn it, but it will take a lot of practice and time to discover the best way forward for me. By doing this, it will help me live more in-the-moment and be more “present” to things.
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Remembering Oma 30 Years After Her Passing

The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
The photo of my Oma that everyone thinks is me in drag!
30 years ago today (26 February), my Oma passed away from intestinal cancer, 1 month shy of her 66th birthday and about 1 month after the diagnosis. I was nearly 13 when she passed away, just shy of that age where you start appreciating the stories and history your parents and grandparents share with you, if you’re interested in family history and that sort of thing.

A few months ago, one of my cousins asked me what Oma was like, and one thing that struck me recently was that out of all my cousins on my Dad’s side of the family, probably only my brother Brian and I remember or knew Oma the best.
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Memories of Grandpa

On Thursday night, Noel and I were watching a special episode of Gold Rush where the young miner Parker Schnabel was dealing with the decline of his grandfather John Schnabel.  The final shots showed John celebrating his 96th birthday in a hospital in California after an operation to attempt to restore blood flow to his leg.  John died a month later, peacefully, in his sleep.

The finer details aren’t totally important, but the relationship between John and his grandson Parker, on film at least, reminded me very much of my relationship with my Grandpa, who was born in the same year as John and suffered from prostate cancer the same as John, but only lived to 83 and a half, compared to John’s 96 years.

You could see that John felt the sun rose and set in Parker, and Parker didn’t seem too terribly reserved in showing his love for his grandfather.  My Grandpa had always encouraged us to show our emotions, that it was okay to hug, to cry, to laugh, to tell people what they meant to you.  And I think this helped make me a more caring, empathetic person.

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Five Years after the 22 February 2011 Quake

We really didn’t need the earth-shaking reminder on Valentine’s Day that the fifth anniversary of the devastating 22 February 2011 earthquake was coming up.

Somehow, it (literally) shook my confidence that everything was settling down again, and the ground below me could be trusted like it had been before the 4 September 2010 quake and its “rich aftershock sequence”.

Last year, on the anniversary, I turned to Jacqui and said, “I’m over it.  It seems like so long ago.  It’s time to move on.”

I don’t feel that this year.  Maybe the Valentine’s Day quake coming so close to the anniversary has caused me more damage than I know.

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5 Years Ago Today: The Darfield Quake

We’d just returned from lunch with my parents in quiet suburban Chicago.  I’d left my iPhone at home because it was early in the morning in Christchurch, New Zealand, and I figured no one would call at that hour.

Checking my phone, I saw there were several missed calls from a few different people; something very strange was going on.

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