Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One Year Later...

... we find our heroine sitting in her apartment, furiously pecking away at her keyboard because she still hasn't learned how to touch-type. One year later, she is still in school, pursuing her undergrad degree, although she now has a sense of urgency that never existed before her 27th birthday. She gazes around at her surroundings, fondly reminiscing about the day she moved in, one year ago.

She silently catalogs the minor shifts and changes that were never made.

"Those curtains still need to be lined."
"The front hall's closet door is still broken."
"That picture still needs to be hung."

She notes the changes that were made, and she is quietly triumphant.

"I like that new bedspread."
"Those flower boxes are nice."
"I'm so glad I changed that rug."

Minor accomplishments and small defeats color her memories from the past year of existing in this residence. She is still single and lonely. She still smokes more than she'd like to admit. She has learned more than three chords on her guitar, but she has retired the keyboard (for the time being). She has switched jobs three times and changed her name once, only to change it back, almost immediately. She has cultivated a love for cooking and cleaning, though she still loathes doing her dishes. She eats better. She laughs more. She wakes up early and remembers birthdays. She writes regularly. She hates what she writes semi-regularly. She makes attempts to get paid for writing, but she is convinced that everyone else hates what she writes also.

She has lived in this apartment for one year, today. For the moment, she is pleased with the past year and is looking forward to another. She wishes they hadn't raised the rent on her. This next year had better be worth it. She expects it will.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

warm weather storms and accordion show

woo. i drove around in a summer storm to pick up shirts and merchandise for a pal. he played an excellent show at the house of blues. i've never been there before. it was neat. so was the storm.

have you ever driven through a storm? have you ever driven thhrough a Hand-of-God-style storm while blasting Aretha Franklin? if not, then you must try it. there's nothing quite so satisfying. especially if you sing along. oh, man, was that fun. it made the wait for UPS to get their shit together worthwhile.

the show was fantastic, as usual. although, i did find the relief portraits on the ceiling of the House of Blues back porch slightly creepy and disconcerting.

if you like accordions, give Jason Webley a listen. if you don't like accordions, give it a listen anyways. then go see one of his shows. he's one of the best performers i've ever had the pleasure to watch. i'm always amazed at his ability to control a crowd, hold their attention and get them to spin in slow circles whilst staring at their pointer finger.

after you do all of that, go drive around in a storm with Aretha. then you can give me a call and we'll have a laugh.

Monday, April 21, 2008

CG0h, my muscles hurt.

I'd rather DO stuff than HAVE stuff. that's no secret. the stuff that i DO is fun, usually inexpensive and totally worthwhile. i did a bunch of that stuff this weekend.

i WANT some aspirin and a heating blanket. i am so sore from the stuff that i did. it's a good feeling, unless if i catch a glimpse of my reflection. i look like quasimodo, hunched over, my face screwed up in a grimace. yeesh. i'm pretty sure that my body grew more muscles specifically to be SORE.

"Journey To The End of The Night" was amazing. it was more than i expected and more fun than i thought possible. i discovered that i'm terribly out of shape and cannot hop a fence anymore. i used to be pretty good at it. not anymore. sigh. ah, well.

the 'race' began in Wicker Park at 7p and took the players all around the city. i lost my team before the first checkpoint, but luckily met up with some other folks that didn't seem to mind my inability to hop a fence. they were so cool. we ran through yards, alleys, streets, trainyards, Lower Wacker, downtown... we chatted with strangers, celebrated small victories, high-fived eachother when we made it to checkpoints and ultimately played to WIN.

i have so many stories from the night. i don't think i could write about them properly. i can describe how sore i am, though. running from Wicker Park to the Shedd Aquarium in the course of 5 hours took its toll on my poor body. i hurt. but it's a good kinda hurt. it's the kind of pain that comes with a feeling of achievement, and as far as i can tell, something amazing was achieved tonight. it was a grand social experiment that made me fall in love with Chicago all over again.

Friday, April 18, 2008


You know how there are some nights when you can't seem to find ANYTHING to do? Tonight was not one of those nights.

I can't believe how much STUFF happened today. Don't get me wrong, it was all GREAT, just A LOT. I doubt I'll be having another night like this again soon. Then again, it was the sort of day that makes me happy with my life, exactly as it is. I don't remember the last time I could say (write) that. I usually just whine.

I spent my workday at 'Conscious Choice,' writing. I actually think I might be able to make a solid go of this journalism thing. I still hate Hemingway, but I can finally appreciate his style. While I was at work, I got a call about 'testing' a new computer game. I don't think I'm allowed to divulge the silly and fun details of the game, but I will say that I had a blast playing, singing and guessing. Karaoke is like opera for the working class. Then I went to Bill's Blues Club, in Evanston.

I normally don't do well in 'blues' clubs. I find them pretentious and stifling. I suppose I should have known better because my good pal, G, invited me to come see him play tuba in a band called The Prohibition Orchestra. It was wonderful to listen to a full band play music that should be a lot more mainstream than it is, these days. I highly recommend seeing them. Oh, golly. What next? Oh, right. A cabaret show that didn't start on time, so we went to Silvie's to see another friend's band play. Also good. Then back to the 'cabaret' show, which turned out to be a series of inside jokes that weren't very funny at all.

I don't think abortion jokes are funny. It doesn't matter how you dress it up, it's just not going to be funny.

Phew. It's been a heckuva day. I wonder what's going on tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Man Man for one of my favorite Men

I love music. Specifically, indie-rock. I know the stigma attached to those who claim to be 'indie-rockers,' and I do not apologize. I love loud, dirty guitars, a beat that I'm not sure I should be dancing to (but will anyways), denim jackets, ridiculous hair, attitudes decorated with a mild superiority complex, hipsters, filthy venues, over-priced PBRs and of course, music.

I think that I've been fairly lucky when it came to how my taste in music was cultivated, and I know that I owe much of my taste to having worked at one of the best venues in the city -- Schubas'. I learned what was good, what was bad, what was promising, what was on the the verge of failure and what I should listen to from the kind folks at Schubas'. Seriously, even the handyman has an absurd amount of rock n' roll knowledge. I'm grateful, otherwise I may have ended up listening to Celine Dion. Yikes.

I'm also grateful for friends that share my taste in music. Tonight was no exception. One of my oldest friends is celebrating a birthday very very soon and we usually go to a show for his birthday. I always look forward to his birthday because I know it'll be a show I want to go to as well.

Man Man at the Logan Square Auditorium Theatre. So. Much. Fun. I've described them as, "Rob Zombie running a circus sideshow." The energy is great. The night was wonderful. The beer was horribly overpriced and the opener sucked. M, I just want to thank you for having awesome taste in music. Happy Birthday (in a few days).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Journey To The End of The Night

i'm so freakin' excited about this. it's gonna be awesome.
many moons ago, i met a performer by the name of Jason Webley. we struck up a casual acquaintance-ship-- casual, due to the fact that he spends most of his life touring and performing. perhaps i'll write more about him in the future. well, i was on his website one evening when i came across a fantastic oil portrait of him, surrounded by a sky that was raining umbrellas. not only was the image itself interesting and amusing, but it was BEAUTIFUL. i searched for the artist and penned a quick how-do-you-do and appreciative nod for his artwork.

he wrote, "My lady-friend and I are moving to Chicago (from California) in eleven days. Will you be our friend?"

it was one of the most oddly charming emails i had ever received. i accepted the pleasant task. i do so love introducing newcomers to my city. we became moderately friendly and i felt very good about the new residents.

the artist i felt so compelled to contact and praise has decided to introduce "Journey To The End of The Night" to the humble citizens of Chicago. it's a game that is part scavenger-hunt, part race, part game of 'tag' that takes place throughout the city. it is very exciting. this is a game that apparently has been played in several cities around the world, including San Francisco, London and D.C. i'm not entirely sure how to describe it because i have yet to participate, but boy howdy, am i ever excited about it.

i love the idea of a (large) group of complete strangers taking part in an event that requires A) some knowledge of how Chicago is laid out, or at least some enthusiasm to learn about Chicago, B) a certain amount of physical activity. we're only allowed CTA or our legs. seriously. a bike would be great, but it's not allowed. you MUST walk/run/skip to the checkpoints, all the while, you're being 'chased' by a selected team. C) i love that this is an activity that doesn't rely on alcohol in order to socialize. we need more stuff like this.

well, at any rate, i'm excited about this. it's a mystery and a curiosity. i'll be sure to report more on the event after it has taken place, but for now... wheeee! CG0, here i come!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Serving and Receiving

This is a PSA. Be nice to your waiter or waitress. Be as nice as you can possibly be. These folks work extremely hard, but aside from that, you don't know what ELSE they do. That's right, folks. Servers are people, too.

From past experience as a long-time waitress and interactions with others, I can safely say that they're typically multi-faceted and multi-talented people, who hold titles like "Mom" or "student" or in the case of my neighborhood diner waitress, "HR Assistant to the State Representative, Greg Harris." She helps with scholarship options available through the 13th District, and boy, oh boy, did she make my day.

I was getting caffeinated at the diner while plodding through my transcripts. As I tried to make sense of my academic history to better plan for my academic future, she came along and asked what I was doing. I told her, and then proceeded to tell her of my worries over paying for summer classes, since my scholarship doesn't cover summer tuition. She wasn't just sympathetic, the way some servers might be, she was HELPFUL.

I'd rather not divulge details, but I will say that she offered me a way to pay for summer classes, and then offered her clout. I was amazed. I've been her 'regular' for more than a few years, and we've always maintained a friendly relationship without actually being friends. I had no idea that she held another job. I had no idea she held another job that could be so... USEFUL.

Well, I have an application to fill out, but I just wanted to tell you, dear Reader, that you should always be nice to your server. For that matter, you should always be nice to PEOPLE. You never know who else they might be.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

How Sweet it Smells

It is warm today. It is warm and sunny and I feel happy for no reason except that it is warm and sunny. I think the wretched winter is finally over. Young women are wearing flip-flops and sunglasses. Children are running around. Fat men are wearing ugly shorts instead of hideous pants. Please let this be Spring, oh, please please please.

I keep thinking of Spring as a frightened little bunny rabbit. I'll catch a glimpse of it, nibbling at some grass or a bush, we'll make eye contact, then someone will screech, "OH! LOOK! It's SPRING!!!" and the bunny rabbit will scamper away, scared out of its mind.

I hope nobody scares Spring away. The air finally smells good again and my throat doesn't seize up when I breathe in. Chicago is about to get a whole lot more enjoyable.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Start of a Season, The End of an Era

I went to the Cubs game yesterday, as a sort of engagement party for some friends from the days of Yore. We caught each other up on our lives, ate many hot dogs and cheered loudly enough to be deemed "obnoxious." It was a great time, and a great day for a painful ball game. Oh, Cubbies, will you never learn?

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I can appreciate a game of baseball or basketball more easily than I used to. I think I only made two snarky comments. My friends knew I would. That's what friends do. They know and understand, and sometimes, I think they rather enjoy my sarcasm. We've known each other for nearly ten years, most of us having met while we worked together at a Bakers Square in Naperville while some of us were just regulars at the pie-infested eatery.

I love my friends from the Bakers Days. If I had enjoyed high school more, I would have kept in touch with people from high school. But I didn't particularly like high school. I liked working with the Bakers crowd. They taught me how to play euchre and how to enjoy late-night heavily-caffeinated conversations about Nabokov or Fellini (and a number of other pretentious subjects). They taught me how to be a good friend and to expect more from people. They made me appreciate flowers and school. I've kept in touch with them. We meet up every six months or so, catch up, joke around, celebrate and generally enjoy the company without trying too hard. It's easy and comfortable.

When we left Wrigley Field, we gathered up, made plans to go to a bar and hang out for a little bit longer. Then Patrick got a text message. It said something to the effect of, "It finally happened. BS is finally closed." He showed me the text and told me to remember that, "This is where we were when it finally happened." I was stunned. We all were. It was like hearing that your high school had just burned down and was being replaced with a Wal-Mart. Well, if I had liked high school more, I guess that's how it would feel.

I'm still not sure how to let the news affect me. The cursed pie-factory was the nexxus of so many friendships, though we had long-since moved past it with school, jobs, marriages, family, etc. We discovered that the restaurant had been shut down with minimal fanfare and no warning. Just some corporate dickweeds walking in, offering positions to upper management and severance checks for everyone else. Done.

I wonder what's going to happen to the building. I'm also wondering what they're going to do with all those pies...