Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring Break: Week Two

The second week of break brought cooler temps for M and me, but we still enjoyed plenty of activities.

Watching movies, playing board & video games, reading:

While watching Avatar: The Last Airbender:
Me: I used to watch this with my sister.
M: Really? How old is she?

On secret agents retiring: They need to stop going to rich people's parties if they don't want to be agents anymore. That's where trouble starts.

Playing LEGO Batman: I'll be Flatman, you be Ribbon.

To G, out sick from school: What is there to do on facebook in the middle of the day?

After getting off the phone with his mom: Wow, G, Mom actually thinks you're sick.

Playing Pictionary:
M: I was gonna draw Miley Cyrus, but, you know...
Me: What?
M: You wouldn't get it because you're not a kid.

Playing Risk: Your first mistake was keeping all your armies in South America.

Playing Stratego: You should probably never lead an army into battle ever.

After reading for two hours straight (yes, I read too & yes, he loves reading):
M: I wanna watch Family Guy now.
Me: Why?
M: Because it's funnier than you.

As you probably gathered, the kid's a jokester. I plan to continue cultivating this side of him in the months to come.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Break: Week One

I'm not in college, or any school for that matter, but I'm still in the middle of Spring Break. That's right, M has TWO weeks off school. Here are some highlights from Week One:

Beach Day with M:

After handing me a shell: "Here's something nice, now go make me a lounge chair out of sand."

"People are at work or school, but I'm at the beach! You're at the beach too...AND you're at work. You have the best job ever."

Me: That cloud looks like a viking ship.
M: That cloud looks like suspended ice particles.

After digging a giant hole in the sand, he lays flat on the ground and puts his head in it: "Is this what ostriches feel like?"

Playdates, bike rides, library trips, random observations:

On being able to stay awake for The Hunger Games midnight premiere: "I mean, it's not like you'd be going to see Water for Elephants. Who would go to a midnight showing of that? Clowns?"

On the neighbors' backed up sewage problem: "Yesterday it smelled like zoo. Today, fish."

"Do you think you could be an assassin if your only weapon was wire?"

"We started off playing Keep Away, but that turned into War, as these things do."

"I want to mow the lawn, but dandelions are all aunt used to pour paint thinner on dandelions."

"What if Katniss had a balloon as her weapon, not a bow and arrow? Everything would be so different."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

Ethnically speaking, Irish-Americans have the majority in Chicago. So if you're gonna celebrate St. Patrick's Day here, you gotta be ready for an entire day of green debauchery.

We (residents of the Naw/siblings/roommates/Crew) started the day with breakfast at 10 here at the Naw, about the same time the river was being dyed downtown. At noon, when the parade started, we were about ready to leave and join the nonsense. Clearly none of us are Irish as no tears were shed over missing the two major events of the day.

Not that we really missed anything--we still saw the river, in all of its green glory. It was my first time seeing it such a bright kelly green, but if I didn't know it was dyed, I wouldn't have been shocked to see it that color naturally. The Chicago River is not known for its pristine waters.

Because the weather was awesome, everyone and their Irish cousins were out. People crowded around the river front and paraded/stumbled/strolled in packs up and down the streets. The seven of us decided to make our way to the lake front, for the view and a reprieve from the masses. First we made a pit stop at Potbelly's, where we made friends in the bathroom line, and we were on our way.

The lake, as always, didn't disappoint. It was calm and while the sun beat down unforgivingly, the water was about the temperature of green beer straight from the tap. So no swimming, just toe-dipping. Fine by us. We lazed around by the lake until the heat got to be too much, then headed back to the Naw for a midday sleep.

We finished up the holiday by making a giant dish of baked macaroni & cheese and demolishing it while catching up on the NCAA Madness. The sounds of our neighbors having a party downstairs mixed with our conversation and music and I'm pretty sure anyone walking by last Saturday night thought anyone living at the Naw has the good life. We do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Good Day Sunshine 2

Okay, not exactly right now...since it's one in the morning. But today, yesterday--Wednesday--was something like June. Highs in the upper 70s, breezy. It's amazing how this weather brings people out. A drive that usually takes me 10 minutes, even during rush hour took over 30 minutes. Luckily it was Beatles Wednesday on the classic rock radio station.

Even with three straight days of glorious glorious weather, I don't exactly trust Chicago to keep the sunshine coming. It definitely feels too good to be true every time I open the paper to the forecast. Will it really be possible for me to get some sort of color back before Easter? If I keep spending lazy mornings on my porch, eating cereal and people watching, maybe.

I've heard there are those who don't like this weather--at least not in March. These people, winter lovers, fools, hardy folk, they say we didn't endure a harsh enough winter to be rewarded with sunny days so soon. I say, obviously you people haven't had to wait 10, 15, 30 minutes or walk two miles in pounding snow just to find a bus in service. Even once, and that's a harsh enough winter for me.

This is how I know we were spoiled last year. This year's winter seemed longer and more dreary, even though we had less snow and it's warmed up a lot quicker. But this year I had to fend for myself in Nature, whereas last year I didn't have to leave the building for weeks if I was so inclined.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Love Invents Us

Sometimes it's okay to judge a book by its cover. For example, when the cover boasts a review like this, from the Los Angeles Times: "Bloom is a truly excellent writer...lyrical and funny....There is a line worth quoting on almost every page of this book." Under these circumstances, one would be wise to judge the book by the cover, because it's true: Amy Bloom is an excellent writer and Love Invents Us is lyrical, funny, and quotable.

The story follows the lives of its three main characters, Elizabeth, Max, and Horace/Huddie, as they grow, mature, fall in and out of love, and deal with life's intricacies. As I read all I could think was that I want someone to make this a movie because it would be so interesting to see how a screenwriter/director/actors interpret it. Here's an excerpt:

Huddie's wires cross every which way now. Sight, smell, taste, and touch enfold one another. Wet is like sweet is like heat is the aching pulse, is salt caking. Her smell is the smell of the unwrapped ready-to-rot figs, and for a lost half hour he scrunches thin lilac tissue paper around their small purple asses, tilting their stems so each seamed bottom is turned to its most seductive side. Carrot fronds are her hair; the slick celadon crack of a broken honeydew is hers and tastes cool, then warm. He puts his lips flat against tomatoes, plums, peaches, and nectarines before stacking them, and they ripen too fast, with hard-to-sell dark spots where his saliva has gathered and seeped in. Marshmallows, not even of interest since early Boy Scouts, roll out of their bags, pull his fingers into their sweet dusty white middles, pull themselves up around his fingertips. Half a bag. Twenty-three marshmallows. His fingers are stiff, powdered white, and his throat is glued shut, but the sugar thickly coating his lips and the drying tug from the roof of his mouth to the root of his tongue is so like a past moment between them he has to sit down behind the unshelved goods, head resting on the giant cans of juice, sticky hands hard over sticky mouth, and cry without making a sound.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Away We Go

Becca and I zigzagged through the aisles of the Jewel-Osco. My cart held items we can't get at Aldi--organic produce, brown rice, almond milk. As we walked, we planned out the rest of our night: ice cream, vegging in front of the TV, cuddling. Just then the $5 movie rack caught my eye. I barely had to browse; I was sold on the first movie I saw.

John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, SNL) hold hands and walk in front of a pencil-sketched background of landscape scenery and various items: stroller, airplane, baby bottle, margarita glass. What more could I ask for? I love both these actors. Then I saw that one of the screenwriters was Dave Eggers (How We Are HungryWhat is the WhatA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusYou Shall Know Our VelocityZeitoun...yeah I've read a lot of his stuff). He's quite possibly my favorite contemporary writer. Becca and I had made our decision as to what we would watch once we got home. Away we went with Away We Go.

Burt (Krasinski) and Verona (Rudolph) are a 30-something couple pregnant with their first child. When plans to raise her close to his parents fall through, they pack up for a cross-country trek to find a new home near other family members and friends. I loved the witty dialogue, the music, and the overall sentiment of the movie. Just watch the trailer, then come borrow the movie from me.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Find Sometimes It's Easy to Be Myself

The sign said YOGA with an arrow pointing into the space between two buildings, just wide enough for two people to walk through. Another sign pointed to a door, painted black to match the walls next to it. And that's where I had class this morning.

Beyond the door was a foyer, where a bearded man sat on a stool and welcomed students. He wasn't the receptionist. He was Kevin, the teacher. The classroom was up a flight of stairs, in a room with sloped ceilings. Natural light came in through skylights and several hot fans kept the room at a balmy 90 degrees. Only 14 students and their mats fit in the room, plus Kevin, walking around encouraging us to breath in and out through our noses.

This method of breathing made it all the more apparent that this studio sits right above a Subway. Several minutes into class, the faint smell of freshly baked bread floated through the room and mingled with the constant undertones of sweat that most yoga studios have. The mixture was not as bad as one might think.

Refreshed, albeit sore, from an hour of chaturanga and downward dog, I rode the bus only part of the way home so I could stop for a much needed haircut. The lady at Studio I-90 knew what I needed as soon as I walked in. My hair was down and a little messy from yoga, and I swear she had her scissors in hand before I could ask if she had time to give me a trim.

Half an hour later, my "sandpaper" (her word) ends decorated the floor and the hairdresser could actually pull a comb through my hair without it knotting up. I felt like a new woman, in the Herbal Essences/Tresemme tossing my hair around as I walked down the street way.

Once home, I realized I had gone to two new places by myself all before noon on my day off. As an introvert who enjoys nothing more than curling up with the Trib and a cup of coffee on the weekend, I felt quite productive and guilt-free napped the afternoon away.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Holiday Schmoliday

It's Casimir Pulaski Day once again...and I still don't understand why schools, libraries, and city offices are closed today. I generally feel this way about Columbus Day too. Why do these guys get holidays when there are far more deserving historical figures to celebrate?

Okay, and I'm a bit jealous that none of these "holidays" are holidays for me--no days off, no holiday pay, no fun or festive activities. Maybe I'll bake another cake at work.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sweet Home, Chicago

Chicago celebrates its 175th birthday today. Incorporated in the 1800s as a city with a population of 4,170, Chicago is now home to about 2.7 million people, including yours truly. I know I'm a transplant, but as a licensed Illinois driver and registered voter in Ward 1, public record has me as a Chicagoan.

According to the recent ad campaign by Chicago Public Library, several other things I have to do to be a "true" Chicagoan are:
  1. Sox or Cubs, choose one.
  2. Partake in deep dish pizza.
  3. Top my hot dogs with mustard, onions, relish, a dill pickle, and a tomato. No ketchup allowed.
  4. Have a CPL card.
I can check all these off: I've never been good at following baseball, but after attending both a Sox and a Cubs game, I went Sox. Not only do I enjoy deep dish pizza, I can tell you that while Lou Malnati's makes a superb pie, Giordano's has an edge when we are talking cold pizza. Vegetarian tendencies aside, I know ketchup is not for hot dogs. I've been a card-carrying member of the library for over a year now and have already claimed three different branches as "home" libraries.

The clearest "true Chicagoan" sign of all: I've been reminding myself a lot lately that a Chicago summer makes this winter/pseudo-spring worth it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Minty Miracle Thursday

Last year miracles happened on Thursdays more often than on any other day of the week. Either that or Brit and I only noticed Thursday miracles. These miracles usually involved books being at the library when we went, TV shows airing when we watched, getting free things, or anything food related, like Shamrock Shakes at McDonald's. Tonight Brit & I got our first Shamrock Shakes of the season. I'm not Irish, but I'm glad there's an Irish holiday in March because I'm not sure how else I'd mark the end of the dark days of February.

We know Shamrock Shakes have been back for a few weeks now, but there's something about eating them in March that really lets you know spring is coming. February is finally over, as are the biting cold winds, slushy snow, and bus delays due to inclement weather. If only. March weather is generally awful as well, but at least Shamrock Shakes are a ray of sunshine streaming through it all. A minty cold ray of sunshine with whipped cream and a cherry on top.