Revision Street: Aaron Karmin, Early 30s

August 24, 2010

Aaron Karmin is a mental health counselor, and he recently got married. “Chicago’s been good to me,” he says. “I can’t complain. I always say, I’m a Chicago ambassador I go around and I tell people, Chicago’s a fantastic city.” I don’t know him very well—he’s the brother of an acquaintance, so I start by telling him how many of the Revision Street: America interviews touch on September 11. And right away his story fascinates.

I was on the phones with people who were trying to get in touch with people in the Towers, I need you to find my cousin, my mother, my brother, my lover, my broker. Part of what I do is, I work with a counseling service, so if you work for, say, Target, you get this counseling service. Now we have JP Morgan, American Express, what have you, that were in Tower Eleven, so it wasn’t the main Twin Towers, but Tower Eleven was one of the towers that went down. So I was actually on the phone in the NBC building downtown, so it was like: When’s the other shoe gonna drop? You know, Chicago. Eventually, they let us go after they were gonna shut down the CTA. That’s where I was on September 11. Being a counselor, you get different perspectives on things. So, OK, you’re talking to people trying to find their loved ones after, and they don’t know who to call, ‘cause the lines are jammed or the power was down, so they called us . . .

Right now I do a private practice for anger management, and I work doing the same job that I was doing on September 11. I’m a phone counselor. I do a lot of phone counseling with contractors who are overseas in the war zone.

That sounds incredibly hard.

I think cab drivers do hard work or my accountant does hard work, I mean it’s all relative. But it’s a different skill set, that’s how I see it, like I couldn’t sit in a cab all day, I couldn’t be a trucker. I do a lot of truckers because people who are on the road, they’re remote, so phone counseling is a good option. I always marvel at my accountant. I don’t know how he does that, I mean sit around and do numbers all day. I mean god bless, ‘cause we all have different skills, so my skill set is, I listen.

I just bought a house. I live in Albany Park, so I bought a single family house, three bedroom, one and half bath. Got a yard. It was a fixer upper, so we totally fixed her up. I’ve been very introverted, less exploring the neighborhood. The neighborhood is good because I’m a stone’s throw away from the Brown Line. I’m not a car person.

I got married just this past March. March 13th. We got married at the Cultural Center. We actually met on Match.com. It works. We are a terrible bloody commercial, I tell you. It’s like the Home Depot. Every time I see a Home Depot I’m like, that’s me, I’m the Home Depot. They should name an aisle after me after all the money I spent there renovating.

So yeah, Match.com. I was on for, god help me, I was on for like a year. Never mention that you’re a therapist if you’re gonna do online dating, ‘cause you seem to meet a lot of people who are looking for free therapy. I tried to kill myself two days ago. . .

No way.

Yes way. This was a first date conversation. You know, the build up is: hard working, academic, does yoga and kayaking, has interests, activities, has her own place—so autonomous, independent. These are the qualities. I’ve had a beer with many worse people than that, so hey? Why not meet for a beer? And then I was like, Whoa, that’s just too much information. I’m all one to show your cards, but that—that was . . . ah, Check please. It’s always good for the ego to feel like there are a lot of unhealthy people out there, and when something like that happens, you’re like, Boy I’m a really healthy guy compared to my competition.

There are a lot of people who have trouble working on themselves. Maybe because I’m a therapist, I see everything through my eyes. But that’s how we met. She was only on it for like three months. I’m on it for a year, and I’m like all jaded and she’s just open-minded. At that point, I was like, It’s gonna be terrible. But it worked out.

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