Thursday, December 11, 2008

coffee and tv.

I had a really tough time sleeping last night, tossing and turning and waking up every couple hours. It was one of those nights with all these vivid dreams that kept running in circles, slamming into each other, and breaking apart in pieces. There were bits of being inside a building that was under attack, being torn apart by gunfire. There was a glimpse of being at an imaginary apartment surrounded by lots of friends without faces at Christmastime. There was a PG-13 clip with dramatic lighting, rain on windows, and an ex-coworker. There was an old friend's yellow lab drinking water out of an old bucket in the driveway during the summer.

I woke up a little late today, had some coffee, sent a couple emails, and went to take a shower. I had an interview today, and I was pretty nervous. I stumbled across something the other day not really looking, slapped together my resume and a couple sketches and sent it in. It's not industrial design, but it's involved, and sounds interesting.

So I shaved today, fully, for the first time in at least a couple years. It's weird. And cold. And you can feel things touch your face.

I suited up, went out to the interview, and was fairly nervous up until I shook the man's hand when I met him. Once I started talking, I was surprisingly calm, articulate, and confident. We talked about my past experience, and I asked him more about the company and my job in particular.

I felt pretty good when I left, but I'm not really concerned if I don't get the job. I guess that's a good thing. I went down the street for lunch at Taza on Franklin, and stood in line behind a dozen people waiting between rows of tables and the counter. The last time I ate here, I was working at Morningstar as a graphic design intern before I graduated. I instinctively glanced around to see if I recognized anyone from my old job, but the only familiar face was the guy making falafels next to the gyro grill.

I scanned the menu, then heard myself mutter "gyro/falafel combo, please." I had defaulted to what I used to order, and man, it's fantastic. I ate, sitting at the window, watching everyone come and go. The owner wasn't around today, but I remembered talking with him and my boss one day when it wasn't so busy. He talked about moving here and running a restaurant in the loop. We talked at length about food, and in the middle he got up and started to make us some Turkish coffee. We all sat and drank and talked for a little while longer, til we all decided it was probably time to get back to work. That was one of those really nice breaks in an otherwise unmemorable day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I think everyone did a good job of documenting the happenings at the wedding, so thanks for that. I was really glad to see everyone, especially those from out of town, Dave and Mendy, Nate and Laura, Martha and Matt, Kevin and Jenny, and Angela. The visit was short lived, but packed with happiness.

I'd never been a groomsman before, though I think the three of us pulled off the stereotype pretty well.

Before the ceremony, the photographer pulled Brian, Colin, Kevin, myself and the two ushers outside to take some creative photos. The guy was probably one of my favorite parts about the whole wedding. He played the part perfectly, and it reminded me of someone like Dane Cook doing a bit about a photographer. Picture that. Then his photo booth shot. Serious, or trying to be funny? I can't tell.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

may tomorrow the land be anew.

This month seems to be flying by.

I've been making some attempts at getting together some work for ID, developing my sketching, and relearning what I actually went to school for. So far it's going alright. I'm more motivated than I have been in almost two years, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

This weekend is going to be legendary, as our good friend Brian is getting married to Liz, all of the out of town friends will be together, and I'll be donning a tux for the event.

Last week the most exceptional thing in my lifetime happened, and I only had my phone to document it. I know we've all been saturated, but I guess I just don't want the feeling to go away yet. It was great to be there for something so incredible.

What got me is how everyone was so excited to be there, and happy. I got a little lost from our group and meandered closer to the front for a while. I was on the phone trying to find out where the group was when we got Virginia, then moments later when the giant screen showed that Obama won. The roar from the crowd was one of those that was so loud you could feel it from your stomach to your ears. It was like a drowning noise from cicadas, twisting up inside my head, becoming a single tone that almost made me cover my ears.

Next to me, an elderly black woman with whom I'd been chatting grabbed my hand, sort of raising and shaking it, and said, "We did it, baby. We did it!"

I almost lost it right there.


Halloween was fun, and we carved pumpkins this year. Simone roasted the seeds, and in avoiding the usual GDP, she just salted them and they were great.

With the help of my new lady-friend, Jen, the carving of Walter happened. His look is somewhere between surprised and trying to look innocent, I think. Maybe he's singing. Christmas carols.


Last night I went to see A.A. Bondy at Schubas. He's kind of a folk-country-rock guy and last night was apparently his first headlining show, though he's been playing for quite some time. It's great music to get you through the winter, soulful and raw. His playing is precise, but not labored, and on several songs he changes the tuning of a couple strings to give a lower, bass-driven sound, smooth alongside his somewhat gritty vocals.

He's no amateur, and although his album American Hearts was recorded in his barn, it sounds great. You should check it out if you like good music.

I got to have a drink with him after the show, and he talked about touring, sleeping in his car, and Obama-Chicago coolness. The coolest thing was that he asked me for my phone number when he was trying to figure out a place to stay for the night. So he almost crashed at Palmer Hall. Would've been neat.

Anyway. I'll try to do this more regularly so things aren't so jumpy-aroundy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

go, go, go. as fast as your legs can take you.

After a full night's sleep, I spent a good day walking up and down hills, looking at colorful homes, checking out cafés, and walking along the bay. At first I just went up any street that was higher than the one I was currently walking along. I soon noticed how many people had well defined legs.

I hadn't arranged my plans for the next few days, so I did that while resting at the top of a hill in the shade of a large cathedral. Since I was just going to be in San Francisco for the day before heading to Santa Barbara overnight, I had nowhere to store anything, so I was carrying everything I had with me. It was exhausting, but felt good at the same time.

The weather was cool, but sunny, and I had a good time exploring the different neighborhoods that seamlessly butted up against eachother. I like the idea of a city that's so completely walkable, but doesn't feel small. The differences in elevation were crazy to me, giving a constantly changing view of the city.

I walked through Chinatown and North Beach and up through Telegraph Hill, then down toward the pier and watched some teenagers do tricks on bikes that would have left me in a crumpled broken heap on the pavement. I relaxed on the pier until the sun finally crept behind the buildings downtown before making my way to the bus station. I still had a couple hours to kill, but I was cold and exhausted and buried myself in a book until the bus came.

* Dinner with Brian last night "—so this old guy's scooting along the wall like a ninja. We get his gun, and he's got a glock. I mean it's nicer than mine. So I'm wrestling him to the ground, and he puts a voodoo curse on me. So now I'm cursed. And the guy was a Jehova's Witness."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

in the middle of the night.

Stopped for one night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The train was late getting in, and I didn't have all that much time to look around, but there was plenty of time to meet a weirdo with whom I shared a hostel. Sweet.

The next day was another two day train ride which brought me into Emeryville, California, across from San Francisco. This ride was great, and we went through the Sierras.

I met some great people on this stretch – some musicians, a woman and her daughter visiting family, a guy heading back to school at Berkeley, a Native American named Yellow Horse, and a New Zealander who lived in Ireland and was vacationing in the States.

I spent a lot of time in the observation car talking with people, learning a couple card games, and making my way back and forth through the train cars. This two-day stretch was pretty special, and as we all talked and told stories, we got to know some of the people working on the train. The engineer was L.A. Walker, the conductor's name was D.C. Cannon though he went by Daryl, and the diner car guys nametags said "Curly" and "Johnny Rivers." I swear I couldn't have come up with better names had I written this part into a movie.

Heather and Kendall (the little one) behind me having a good time, and this nervous guy next to me was moving across country to go to school. It was interesting to learn everyone's story, and how they were all very different.

Lots of people just hung out in their regular train car seats, keeping to themselves and watching movies, reading a book, doing crossword puzzles, or just trying to get comfortable while sleeping. I was glad to have hung out in the lounge car instead. The girl in the green shirt was named "Cloud" (Claudia, but called Cloud since she was five,) and was heading home to Berkeley where she had a jewelry and hair wrap stand on Telegraph Ave.

This girl, Lea, was moving from Denver to the west coast. She was a singer/songwriter/guitarist and had a voice that could knock you down flat and pick you right back up again. She was travelling with another guitar player, and they were just sort of enjoying being transient for the moment and deciding where to stay for a while.

I don't remember this little guy's name, but he was a nice sort of fellow, though somewhat reserved.

The guy that was going back to school at Berkeley looked like kind of a jerk at first glance. Collared light pink shirt, strategically tattered jeans, club shoes, and a half frown on his face. Turns out he was exceptionally nice once I started talking with him, and he was in the middle of trying to get Amtrak to utilize a better recycling program. He was an environmental law student and one night after a few drinks it came up that he played accordion pretty well and had one with him.

Turned into a fun late night with him, Lea, and the other musician all trading off playing songs and entertaining about 6 of us on the lounge car. At night, on the train with guitars, and songs, and even one harmonica. It's either cheesy or pretty amazing, and I'm definitely siding with amazing on this one.

Bert, the other musician.

Look at all that country back there. There's just so much of it.

Three-plus days on the train put me into Emeryville five hours late, and I'd missed my transfers by that point. Decided to take a bus into San Francisco with a few others and figure something out, though it was a Friday night, and I soon found that all the hostels were full. Finally found a hotel and a shower, and spent the next day in San Francisco before taking an overnight bus to see Janice.

On the train, there was this girl in one of the back cars who was travelling alone with just a backpack and this oversized panda bear. She never seemed to leave her seat, and when I'd pass by at night, she'd be peacefully resting against his large expressionless head.

After several days on the train we all dragged ourselves onto the bus, a short distance from our final destination. I hadn't slept well since leaving Chicago, and I was exhausted, sore, and delirious. I collapsed into my seat and stared out the window for a while. When I looked up, I saw this silly little grin beaming back at me, and I just started to laugh.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Trains are a lot of fun. Taking a train out west may be one of the best ways to see the countryside. At least that's what I've heard, and although I've never driven through, seeing as you can't really sail through and the fact that you don't see much from 35,000 feet, I'd say that a train ride is definitely in the top two ways to see the left half of the country.

I've never been on a real train before, so I was a little anxious and excited when I got to the station, wondering where everyone was going, who they were visiting, and what sorts of things might be coming up.

I saw one young woman struggling with two suitcases, a large bag, a backpack, and a bicycle. In fact, many people had ridiculous amounts of luggage. While waiting in line to board, I heard someone say my name, and it turns out that the girl with the bike was Sonia (David Morley's girlfriend,) and she was heading to California to visit family.

We shared the ride until I got to Glenwood Springs, my first stop, roughly 28 hours later. It was fun sharing the experience with someone I knew, and as it was her first time going out by train as well, we had a lot of fun together and spent a lot of time in the lounge car.

We shared snacks and stories, met some fun people, and ate in the diner car. A lot of the time we just spent staring out the windows, watching the scenery go by. We went through Illinois and most of southern Iowa the first night, and slept through most of Nebraska. The scenery wasn't as boring as I expected. It was refreshing to see patches of farmland, old homes and ranches, and small towns that sort of ran themselves.

We went past general stores, and people waved. Some stations looked like they had been there for a hundred years. Some were just slabs of concrete next to the rails. One was completely bare except for an elderly woman and an old yellow lab.

One thing I was drawn to once we were in a rural area was the old telephone poles. They were rickety looking, crooked, and chewed up. The lines were thin, and the crossbars all had the old-style glass insulators on top of them which the wires wrapped around. The insulators were different colors and all seemed to catch the sunlight, spilling out rays of green or red light. I wish I could have gotten a good photo of one of them, but it was tough to catch.

Colorado is incredibly picturesque, and I wish we had slowed down a bit once we got into the mountains along the river. It was more than a little humbling, seeing these massive natural structures jutting out of the ground at dramatic angles, scraping the clouds, with trees and other wildlife barely able to cling to the sides. I just wanted to sit and stare all day.

The town of Glenwood Springs is home to some amazing natural hot springs, and since they're visited by tens of thousands of people each year, periodically they will be closed for maintenance or cleaning. It was one of those days when I was there. At least there was a big red mountain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

this shadow weighs a ton...

one stopover in San francisco and an overnight bus put me in Santa barbara for a couple days with janice. Back to sf tomorrow night for a couple days, then another train north. This is being pecked away on my iPod, stealing a neighbors internet with hopes that it doesn't crash again, so please forgive gram and typo errors. Janice makes a great hostess, so come visit and she might let you borrow the car while she works.

Drove down the 101 to Ventura today where my parents lived for a while a long time ago. The drive was amazing, and I loved every second of it. I came back through Ojai on a winding stretch of highway 150, passing by ranches and citrus farms, and a picturesque spot called the Coyote River runoff basin.

We cooked fish on the grill last night, and janice told me how one of her friends doesn't even own an indoor table, just a picnic table outside since it never rains. It's beautiful here, but I'm doing my best to back Chicago because, hey, what good is a mild summer if you can never look forward to fall, right?

The mountains and tunnels and countryside coming through Colorado were breathtaking, and I see why people say the california zephyr is the best train in the USA. The observation car was packed and everyone's faces were glued to the windows, oohing and aahing and pointing out the landscape. I was pretty taken aback by the sheer size of the mountains on either side as we went through Glenwood Canyon, and the scenery as it unfolded in the valley below. I can tell you, I haven't had much in the way of religious experiences, but someone got that whole part just right.

I'll try to find a real computer soon, so I can post some photos.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I rode a train.
Colorado is beautiful.
As are the Sierra mountains.
Sonia is fun.
Trains are cold.
Lounge cars are for memories.
Schedules are for suckers.
I'm a sucker.
But I'm alive, in San Fransisco, and have a bed to sleep in.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

single cells would swing their fists.

Andrew Bird stood there, alone, the first time in years. Almost insignificant, he was dwarfed by the stage, hiding behind his mop of hair. Looking out at thousands, he began to play, and all the chattering stopped. A single note pierced through the evening, followed by another, then more.

Layers upon layers were built, swished around, manipulated. Deep bass tones bled into playful higher melodies, lighted colors danced around the stage, and everyone sat, contentedly watching and listening.

We had blankets and sheets, throws, sweatshirts, and a tablecloth. Bottles and bottles and bottles of wine, snacks galore, and the best company you could ask for. Those who couldn't make it missed out, and were missed.

Leading up, the weather was a 30 percent chance of rain. Morning of was 60 percent. Before we left for the show, it was up to 70 percent. But not a single drop of rain fell the entire night, and it was a pretty amazing thing.

I'm looking forward to more nights like this coming up, as fall has made its appearance. Good music, great friends, and an even better atmosphere.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Whale fight.

I was walking through the hall when I overheard on the television that the United States is ranked 48th in the world in life expectancy. How in the world can that be possible? I understand that our health care system isn't up there in the top 5, but I never would have expected us to come in that far down the list.

It got me thinking about different aspects of our lives, and how much time is spent doing different things. Work, exercise, socializing, family, food, relaxing. Maybe somewhere along the lines we got it all wrong. Maybe our priorities need to be re-evaluated. Or maybe it just requires some simple modifications to the way we already do things.

Yesterday, we had a nice bbq at Nate and Kate's place, and damn, I don't know how, but Nate always makes the best pork chops I've ever had. We all sat around the kitchen floor and talked for a while, had a few drinks, and Kate broke out a deep fryer. It was its maiden voyage, and how better to christen a fryer than with curly fries? Oh, I'll tell you how.

Funnel-cake battered, deep fried Snickers.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I'm completely, utterly repulsed. Yet I can't stop salivating..."

Andrew Bird at the Pritzker Pavilion tomorrow. 74 degrees.
Chance of rain: 30%
Chance of awesome: 100%

Friday, August 29, 2008


It's Friday evening, another beautiful summer night. I did some reading, watered plants, cleaned up a little, and now I'm relaxing. Watching people come home from work, playing with their dogs in the park, talking on the bench across the street. The air is still, and the rhythmic sounds of the cicadas are loud and sweeping, competing with the bird's lazy songs. I guess it can be nice sometimes to just appreciate what's going on around you.


If something doesn't happen around here soon, I'm gonna go nuts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, Tim, you're not in college anymore...

Went to see my friend Zach play a show at Uncommon Ground tonight in Lakeview. I'd never been there before, and judging by the people I knew who went there and those who worked there I figured it was sort of a dark, hipster bar, full of bikers, PBRs, indie music, and tight pants. I was a little off.

It's kind of a nice restaurant, split into three parts, with an extensive wine list and expensive meals. They do have lots of local art, and music in the back room.

There was a good but pretentious violinist who played beforehand, and I thought it a little rude when he asked people to be quiet. Zach played next, piano and organ, plus one song that was a duet with a sultry blonde on guitar.

I met up with some old co-workers and we had wine and talked and listened to the music, and it was all generally pretty nice. There was a good mix of lighthearted songs, and heavier ones with really warm melodies.

The temperature was just about perfect tonight, and the bike ride home was cool, and refreshing. Fall is in the air. You can feel it, and smell it, and almost taste it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

making hash browns.

It's a rather beautiful summer night tonight. The light, a sort of deep, orangish pink, is turning all the greens dark and rich. The cicadas are singing, and there's a cool breeze. The clouds are low, moving swiftly, and people are active in the park.

It's pretty perfect, save for the crazy man who's been yelling in the park for the past hour and a half.
So I've decided not to teach the Earth Team this semester. It's been fun and interesting over the past year, and I feel like I've learned so much from so many different students. Teaching (sort of) high-schoolers has been an experience unlike anything I've ever done before, and I've gained a new respect for those who do it full-time. This summer was almost full-time, and I was taken to my limit several times over the course of the program. Granted, the students I worked with over the summer were different than those I would be working with during the school year, and much more difficult to manage.

– Been running a lot this week, and it's a good thing. Even on days I feel like crap, and I don't really get anything done that feels substantial, if I go running I feel like I've got at least one accomplishment for the day.

– Also biking a lot the past couple weeks, just for fun. To the lake, up north, places of the city I haven't been before. It's interesting, and introspective, and fun. I think I might make a hobby of it.

Ok, seriously, this guy sounds like a cross between a man calling his dog (whose name is just a repeating series of vowels) in monotone, and a zombie trying to sound like James Brown screaming.

Monday, August 18, 2008

things I get irrationally annoyed with:

1) Those stupid dancing avatars that want me to click to check my credit score, compare insurance quotes, and lower my mortgage. What the hell do you have to do with anything? Go away, you tiny animation!

2) This pop-up camper that's parked in front of our place. It's always there! I hate you pop-up camper!

3) Guys who take rec-league softball seriously enough to turn into a big jerk on the field and start yelling at people. I mean, come on. Really.

Monday, August 11, 2008

If a shark and a torpedo mated...

The offspring would still be slower than the U.S. men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay team.

Five of us, not exactly fans of swimming, stood screaming wildly at the television, shaking our fists, and cheering our heads off. Five countries beat the previous world record, the U.S. smashing it by nearly four seconds. It had to be one of the best moments in sports that I've ever witnessed.

Quote of the night: "The Americans? We're going to smash them. That's what we came here for." – Alain Bernard of the French 4x100 meter freestyle relay team.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

racing like a pro.

The Museum of Science and Industry.

I remember going as a kid and being excited about all the hands-on interactive things one could do. There were buttons galore, levers and handles and ropes, that when pulled activated some sort of mechanism, usually to demonstrate how a certain scientific principle worked. I would get lost in different rooms, watching things light up, learning about energy and physics and how things work.

I spent hours in the space center looking at the capsules that were flown into space and landed on the moon. They looked like they were made with pieces of gold foil, tubes, pie tins, bits of glass, plastic, and light bulbs. I climbed through a giant head, learning how the eardrums interpret sound, and how the eyes transform the information we see into an image relayed to our brains. And I loved watching the mold machines work; the two metal blocks slowly coming together and a still-warm triceratops being scraped into the little bin below.

We took our kids there today for program and instead of making a big project out of it, we decided to just give them a free day. It was fairly relaxing, but those kids are starting to get the best of me.

The museum has a much different effect on me now that I'm older. The sense of wonder and awe is somewhat replaced with a strange longing. I found myself reading the histories of old cars and their development over time. I thought about what it was like to fly a WWII fighter plane, and about all the materials and technology needed to create something like that – a full ten years before the transistor radio was invented.

I spent a while looking at the model railroad, finding different locations in Chicago on a much smaller scale. I watched a miniature train going over Lake street, the bridge yellow and rusted. Little people went about their business and lower Wacker was full of traffic.

This stuff is all interesting, but sometimes I want to have that same feeling of being overwhelmed, overstimulated, and excited. Where do we go for that sort of thing when we get older?

The rest of the day was also out of the ordinary today. The bus ride home was full of the kids misbehaving. We fired one of our students that we should have fired three weeks ago. I yelled at a half-dozen others with the threat of also being fired. It's frustrating because it feels like their behavior is directly related to how well I'm doing my job. If I'm doing the best I can, I should be able to handle these kids, keep them engaged, interested, and entertained. When it goes south I tend to put the blame on myself. I re-evaluate what I should have done differently in certain situations. How could I have reacted better to that scenario? What other tactics could I have used? But sometimes I feel like my best — the best I can possibly do — is just not good enough to handle some situations.

It's a tough realization, but after considering for a while, I think I'm ok with it. I think it just might mean that I'm not totally cut out for teaching inner-city high schoolers. Other people out there are probably better suited for it. Which should mean that I'm probably better suited for something else. Which is cool.


– If your back wheel gets stolen, for fuck's sake, stay away from Rapid Transit on North ave.

– Tomorrow is my last day of work. woo.

– Vacation for a few days next week with the family.

– Cool evenings are the best.

– Cutoffs. They're everywhere. On cool people.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

be careful out there.

Today I was running near the square, and at the corner of Milwaukee and Logan there was an officer directing traffic. Opposite him was a couple squad cars, a black SUV, a firetruck, and an ambulance. Near the ambulance on the ground was the mangled wreck of a gray bicycle and a yellow backpack. The front wheel, handlebars, and frame were all bent. Nearby, the owner was being loaded onto a stretcher, with bandages and a neck brace already in place. It made me feel pained and sick to my stomach.

The girlfriend, who works at Dunlay's, was trying to get the police to let her take his bike. He had asked her to get it for him, which made me feel better; at least he was conscious.

I thought about how violent the hit must have been for the bike to be that smashed.

There's a lot of people out there on the road. On bikes and in cars. Please pay attention.

Monday, July 21, 2008

there's a reason.

I got a text message today from a number I didn't recognize. It said, "good seeing you yesterday." I racked my brain, trying to think of who it could be, and who I saw yesterday. It also occurred to me that it could've been sarcastic, and that I forgot I was supposed to hang out with someone, and didn't.

I finally gave in and sent a "who is this?" Later came the reply that it was indeed Daniel. He asked, "how are u?" A couple more messages followed, as I was still trying to remember this person. Maybe it was the guy who got me drinks at the club.

Unfortunately for Daniel, I am not the girl he had a great time with yesterday. But at least the fake number she gave him provided me with some entertainment today.

Friday, July 18, 2008

you complete me.

Go see The Dark Knight. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Yeah, but for how long...

Things have been happening. I just haven't written about them. It's not usually what I do. Some people can write pretty freely, for others it can take quite an effort. Some of our kids are that way, at least. I've found that in a classroom situation, providing journal prompts can be helpful in getting kids to write faster. Write about this. Write about that. Instead of thinking about what they should write about, they think about the topic itself. Anyway.

Humboldt Park is beautiful. There's wildflowers, and birds, trees, lagoons, marsh areas, and streams, and footbridges with all kinds of things to look at. It's the kinds of place I could have roamed around and explored for days on end as a kid. Now I'm working there, and I'm trying to get high school kids to enjoy being outside. When it's hot. And uncomfortable. And they're lazy.

We usually start out by walking them toward one of the lagoons, and wind up near a spot where there's plenty of room to spread out, and lots of trees for shade. I like giving them ten or fifteen minutes of time to reflect on things, think about the day, relax, or just zone out. I tell them to listen to the birds. Listen to the sound of the trees in the wind. Feel the grass under their hands. Watch how things move.

Mostly the girls try to sneakily send text messages, while the boys throw sticks at each other.

Then we talk about a few different things involving the ecosystems at the park, interaction between different forms of wildlife, why things are the way they are, etc. Last week we did an experiment that showed them that all the fall colors of a leaf are actually in the leaf year-round. We talked about amphibians, and one of the students told us a story about catching tadpoles. We also played softball one day, and football the next. One of the kids who barely said ten words the whole week came alive after our second play. He called plays, organized our team and positions, called blocks during run plays, and encouraged his teammates. It was kind of inspiring.

Today was rough though. No one was motivated. They were bored, angry, and aggravated. We tried to lighten the mood with some games. We even tried Duck, Duck, Goose, after some discussion on the rules of play. Apparently no one could remember how. That helped ease things up a little.

The rest of the day was filled up with lunch and a scavenger hunt, though everyone's attention was on the fact that two of the kids were supposed to fight after the program. And they're good kids. Well behaved, and smart. Just something over a girl. I tried to talk to them at the end of work today, but I don't think it did any good. And I don't really have any reign when the workday is over, as long as they don't do anything at the park where we work. I told them I didn't want to see either of them busted up in the morning. I hope I don't have to.

Yesterday was pretty great. We had some things planned, but ended up scratching them when the Greater Chicago Food Depository showed up at about the same time we usually start. There were 250 people waiting for a semi-truck full of food that needed to be unloaded, separated, sorted, and distributed, and the truck was an hour late. And they were way short on volunteers. So we helped with that for the day, and it seemed to make everyone feel good.

We unloaded assembly-line style, packed bags and boxes, passed out everything, and helped people to their cars. And no one complained. It was big success, and it felt really good to help out. Anyway, I hope that's the stuff that sticks with these kids. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

the weather outside is weather

Simone, Colin and I went to Lilly's last week, a bar north of Fullerton on Lincoln. One of my co-workers from the restaurant tends bar there on Wednesday nights, and I hadn't been there yet, so I roped my roommates into going.

It looks like a regular DePaul bar from the outside, but the inside more closely resembles an old dungeon with some furniture in it. The floor is uneven brick, rounded and smoothed over time and completely loose in several places. Concrete archways are scattered throughout, painted a dark blue, and the lighting is pretty low. There are a few mismatched tables with chairs and stools here and there, in no real arrangement, and seemingly purchased individually from thrift stores or taken from back alleys.

The bar itself is an old, "L" shaped wraparound, with the tap in the corner. The beer coolers consist of three different Rubbermaid tubs, half filled with ice sitting on the floor behind the bar. A selection of imports and domestics float inside, next to a lone bottle of Jaegermeister. A small sign above the register on the back wall reads, "cash only."

There was a band playing a mix of rock, bluegrass, and country on the small, raised wooden platform in the front of the bar, and when they were done playing, the bartender's ipod provided the musical entertainment.

Colin's eyes went all dreamy as Wilco, Modest Mouse, Spoon, and Kevin Drew poured out of the house speakers. There were fun conversations, Simone spoke in Spanish with a guy I work with from Guatemala, and we got a hefty discount when I paid the tab.

I'll be heading back, that's for sure.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

how will you meet your end?

Yesterday was a day off, and for all intents and purposes, that's exactly how I treated it. I went to Ann Sathers for breakfast and had some of their amazing cinnamon buns, and eggs with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and avocado. Yum.

Afterward, I rode my bike for a while doing some errands. New toothbrush, mouthwash, stopped to look at some shirts. There's so many toothbrushes out there! I fought the urge to get one with a dinosaur on it and went with a slick new sonic one with a tongue scrubber. Weird, yet cool.

I got back, and walked around our park, checking on the progress of the new running track and tot lot. Construction workers were putting in the base layer of gravel for the track, leveling and smoothing as they went along. I think it's supposed to be an even half-mile, and has a nice winding flow through the trees and bushes. The playground itself is actually going to be a slightly recessed area containing several abstract sculptures for kids to play around, parents to sit on, or more likely, hipsters to gather around and drink PBR.

I went with Colin and Simone to El Cid for dinner and margaritas and eventually everyone on the patio was serenaded by the mariachis. Simone's friend Karyn met up with us, and Colin ordered more margaritas.

I was in kind of a mood yesterday. Quiet, observant, introspective. It was still really nice out when we got home, so I put some music on and we sat on the porch with some wine and just listened. It was a nice evening, and I really liked the mix of everything that was going on. Two girls and a guy in the park, playing ball with their dog. Low, strumming music coming from our front room through the windows. Conversation from upstairs that just blended into the background. The occasional rapid click, click, click, click, click, shuffling of cards coming from the same windows upstairs. And followed shortly by the quiet clinking of chips being bet.

It was nice to just sit outside on the porch, have some wine, and soak it all in.

Friday, April 25, 2008

just put it in the bag.

So, we're driving, and in the street this guy's yelling with this girl and when he sees us, he gets in his car and takes off. So we chase him, but it's like fuckin' OJ, I mean he's obeying the speed limit, and stopping and looking both ways before turning into the alleys and shit. So finally, before the last few blocks, he freaks out and steps on it. Then he takes off the wrong way down a one-way street and we follow. He hits the brakes and bails. So we go after him, following him down about six houses before we catch up to him.

And I've got two accidents on record, so another one gets me two days without pay. So we catch up to the guy, take him down, and I'm hitting him in the head when I hear this *crunch* sound come from behind us. The sonofabitch didn't put his car in park before he bailed, he put it in reverse!

So his car's backed against ours, so I tell my partner to grab the keys before the cars get stolen. And I'm cuffing this guy, and I'm like, "why the fuck would you put your car in reverse?!?"

Hey, you finally got some new headgear for kickboxing?

Yeah. I don't think it protects my nose very well, though, because I keep getting punched in it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

If I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean.

Man, the last few weeks have been busy. I feel like I've been saying that once a week for the past six months. I'm still enjoying working at the restaurant, though a little less than I have been. At least it gives me a little different perspective on things, and there's lots Wrigleyvillains to make fun of.

I had the day off today, my first since Easter, so I got productive. I went to the bank, went downtown to the DMV to get a new license that I've been putting off for a while, stopped by the Apple store, went to the Gap for some shirts, and had dinner at Dunlay's with Colin. Half of those things went well.

I stopped at the Apple store to possibly get a new ipod, as mine has been toast for several months now. I looked around and played with all the new toys and fantasized about getting a macbook Air. I used some applications, held it in my arms, and imagined running away together; social norms be damned. It was enticing.

In the end, I impulsively bought an ipod touch. I don't treat myself to big purchases very often, so I figured why not.

I found out the "why not" tonight when I got home and plugged it in. Apparently my operating system is too old to support it, and needs to be upgraded. Boo for impulse buys. Although, now I get two new cool things.

The DMV was hilarious. I think they hire the same contractor to do every DMV, and that guy does subdivision pre-fab basements in his spare time. They all have the same crummy drywall, buzzing fluorescent lights, and driving posters tacked with pushpins.

This time, however, there was a man from Saturn there to keep me company. He didn't work for the subsidiary of GM, though, he was actually from the planet Saturn. He told me himself. He also indulged me in the fact that he had not one, but two spaceships. He carried himself quite well, an older, well dressed gentleman, and made small talk with the woman at the counter. He made it known that he was a pimp, that he hadn't had to really work for twenty years, and that Mariah Carey was one of his prostitutes.

He was at the DMV getting his Earth license.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

so jealous.

So we're all moved into the downstairs (read superior) apartment, and there's just some cleaning left to be done. Colin and I moved almost everything on Tuesday, and I really think everything turned out all right.

Our t.v. room is in the middle room of the apartment now, and the dining/reading room is in the front. So right now I'm sitting on a recliner next to the fireplace with built in bookshelves, and sunlight is pouring in through the front windows where I can see our front porch overlooking the park. What's not to like about that, right?

I also bought a new growns-up dresser yesterday. It's a boulevard dresser from Crate & Barrel, but I got it on Craigslist for a fifth of the price. I now have one piece of nice furniture.
Today is officially the first day of spring. I think I'm going to make some vernal equinox resolutions involving being healthier, more tolerant, and more proactive about things. I've been in a bit of a bad mood for a while, but I'm sure it's directly related to the weather and lack of sunlight. And the sun's out today!
Going to Colin's this weekend for the Easter weekend. I'm looking forward to it; I think it will be fun and relaxing, which I'm in need of right now. It will be a little strange not being around my family on the holiday, though. We usually do an Easter brunch, and hang around talking and keeping it fairly low key. Then Kathy brings out approximately one metric ton of chocolate and baked goods from Weber's bakery in Palos Heights.
I'm looking forward to the final weeks of the after-school program this time around. We've got a great group of kids, and we may have bit off more than we can chew with our final project this year, but I think things will turn out alright. I'm looking forward to having a little more time to visit home and spend more time with family and friends.

And now that spring is here, summer is right around the corner!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Saturday was a really long day at work. People were bitter, I was tired, and the day was terribly inefficient. Blah, blah, blah.

Trudging home, I was pissed off and wet from the snow/rain mix. Then I saw a guy riding a tandem bike. By himself.

I laughed and felt sorry for him at the same time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I has one.

Mostly it involves lesson planning and teaching program during the week (supposedly), and working at the Southport on the weekends. And wine at night. We had a few days of sun, which I'm grateful for, but I'm ready for a full on spring to hit us soon. This cold stuff is for the birds.

I feel like I've been really busy and working a lot lately, and I think that's because I'm missing out on sleeping late and having brunch on the weekends. I wish there was someplace I could get real brunch and a bloody mary at noon on a Tuesday. Yeah, you know the feeling.

I rearranged my bedroom the other day, and I like the new setup. It's not a big deal, but after being cooped up for so long, it's nice to do something physical and see results and an improvement. I recommend giving it a try if you're feeling bored and antsy. It's invigorating.

A couple weeks ago we went to see Harriet Jacobs at the Steppenwolf. I'm not usually big on theater but the performance was absolutely amazing. I'd actually probably go see it again. Anyway, I stopped in a nearby Borders beforehand to warm up and look around and realized that it's time I started reading more. This struck me when I realized I had never read Slaughterhouse Five. How did this happen? What else am I missing out on? What are some of the other books that I should have read by now? Chances are there's a lot. At least I can check that one off the list now.

It appears I've thrown in the towel in this unintentional competition of blog non-posting against Martha K. Davis. She gave me quite a run, but in the end I've just got more roommates going, "Hey, jackass! What have you been up to? I can't tell because you haven't posted in forever!" Ah, well.

Also, went out for a drink after work the other day and played Boggle for the first time ever. And Boggle rules.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What's Happening Now?

January to February lull is taking its toll on everyone at this point, I believe. It's one of those lovely times in Chicago, where it's either raining, sleeting, snowing, or a combination of the three. The sky is perpetually the color of dirty roadside snow. So many people are sick, and the weather reflects that pretty well. We're in the ring, I'm on the mat, and February is slamming me in the face with its People's Elbow.

I've been eating fairly healthy lately, though, doing a decent amount of cooking for the Hall. It's tough to get motivated to run in four inches of slush, so I think it's a decent trade-off. We started program at Norwood Park this week, but due to a computer glitch, I was not able teach the first day. Apparently, they thought I may have had a violent criminal past, but it all worked out fine.

Day two was typical, but on my trek to the El after class I did something I'm not very proud of. It's one of those things that you know is bad when you're doing it, you feel guilty about it, yet you continue anyway.

The Baconator.

Six strips of bacon. Two quarter pound burgers. Two slices of cheese.

One gluttonous smile of satisfaction. I stopped at Wendy's on the way home and figured, "Hey, I'm already here. I might as well get the most horribly unhealthy best and tastiest thing on the menu." Glorious and frightening all at once. I recommend trying one, but only if your heart is up to the challenge.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

in dreamy-dreamland I was cruisin.

I remember when I was growing up I had a recurring dream that always woke me up. It wasn't really a nightmare, but more of a dream I wished I could've controlled.

It always started out the same way: me struggling to reach for the surface in a clear-blue roaring river. I'd pop to the top, breathe in some fresh air, and realize I'm quickly being taken downstream somewhere. As I looked to where the river was heading, I'd see things from an aerial view somewhere behind me and take in the whole scene. There was a ridiculously high and straight waterfall which I was about to head over, and the landscape beyond stretched out in all different shades of green with a river winding through it, mountains in the background, and the sun setting behind it all. Sort of breathtaking.

Then I'd be back in the viewpoint of a half-drowned kid about to go over a waterfall and I'd sort of launch over the edge, just out past the rest of the falling water. I would try to flail about, grab onto something stable, or even look for something to save myself, but all of my muscles had completely stiffened up. I was stuck there, tumbling through the air in front of a waterfall in a half-fetal position, screaming obscenities through a mouth that wouldn't move.

It was really strange, and I would always wake myself violently, bolting upright in bed and gasping for air before I would hit the water.

I haven't had that one since I was a little kid. The ones I've been having lately have been involving guns, and bad guys, and moral dilemmas. I'm either chasing or being chased. Or we're all in war on a hillside, or in the jungle. Sometimes it's just running through the city. Nondescript, just the blur of storefronts and buildings, trees and fences and crossroads, and the periodic checking over the shoulder.

Though, the other day I had one where I was at a large house in the suburbs with a stone horseshoe driveway. John Cusack came over, (we had plans to go for lunch) but instead of driving he arrived in his new personal helicopter. I was excited. He was excited. He really liked flying his new helicopter.

We took off for lunch, staying above the main roads and obeying all traffic laws. We stopped at stop signs, and waited for a red light to turn green before continuing. Apparently, it was only a private residential helicopter, not a commercial one. According to the FAA, I guess he had to adhere to the rules of the road while flying within city limits. I didn't get to fly it, but it was still fun. We got some sandwiches and had good conversation. John Cusack is a pretty cool guy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

there's been an accident.

I look down to see a swath across my middle, fluid pouring out like heavy cream onto the stainless steel table below. It spills over the table's edge, down the legs, and gathers in a pool on the tile floor. I watch for a moment, then collect myself, get cleaned up, and go back to the floor.

I started working at a restaurant about a month ago, and I've gotten fairly comfortable there, although I'm definitely still "the New Guy." The people I work with are pretty friendly and it's nice to have some extra cash. The clientèle can be a bit pretentious, but then again, I guess the menu is also.

There is nothing done just straight up. Everything is preceded by several adjectives, and is either infused with or accompanied by something. Fresh mozzarella and pesto, topped with a red onion, tomato, balsamic mix. Toasted crostini layered with smoked chicken sausage, queso fresco, arugula, roasted red pepper, and a lemon pepper cream cheese. Or the challah bread french toast, stuffed with apple cream-cheese streusel, and topped with pralines and organic maple-pecan syrup.

The espresso machine just got a tune up, so now I can make that half-caff, low-foam, skim chai latte that I so dearly love. I bring one (or something similar) to a woman's table as she parks her double-wide, climate controlled, stroller SUV and unleashes two demons. I find some crayons for the kids, take the order, and fetch some kid-safe cups.

It's a slower day than usual, and things are running pretty smoothly. This woman turns out to be less trouble than I expect and the rest of the afternoon is fairly uneventful. I take a break after lunch and go back to the kitchen to make a half sandwich. Fresh baked wheat bread with turkey, provolone, tomatoes, romaine, and pesto mayo, plus a cup of chicken minestrone.

Afterward, I restock some glass bottles of Sprite and Coke, and put together some garnishes for bloody marys. I've still got an hour left, but to my surprise, I get sent home early. I took a different route to work this morning, and I now backtrack—walking down the road to catch the bus.

It's gotten chilly all of a sudden, and waiting for the bus I notice a man shiver and draw his coat tighter. Another guy adjusts his scarf and buries his hands in his pockets. Across the street, a young man pumping gas zips his jacket, throws up his oversized hood, and crosses his arms, sort of hugging himself.

I half smile, realizing that I'm doing the same thing. The wind has picked up, and as I look down the street through the glass of the bus stop, I see that it has just started sprinkling again.

Monday, January 07, 2008

january thunderstorm.

It's midnight. The rain is patting on the windows and windowsills and everything else outside. There's rolling thunder accompanied by occasional lightning. It's early January, and it was 64 degrees today.

I was told that it's best to sit down and write when I'm in the mood to write something specific. Unfortunately that's never the case for me. Most of the writing that I do gets jotted down in the steno of my brain while walking to the el, riding the bus, listening to music, or some other passive activity that allows me to just think for a while. Unfortunately, I don't seem to hang onto many of these thoughts for very long, or at least they don't pop back to the forefront when I sit down in front of the computer.

It's been a busy, somewhat chaotic past month for just about everyone, I'm guessing. The holidays are always difficult because there's so much going on that we seem to lose track of the other things in our life that still need attention. Whether it's chores, personal time, work, or just relaxing a bit, it has probably been put on hold for a while.

The holidays were amazing. It was great to see everyone, and it reminded me how much I miss you all, and how I really like spending time with everyone.

As the excitement from the holidays has settled down, I've found myself falling into a bit of a strange mood lately. Sort of introspective, a little bit angry, maybe a little reclusive. I'm ok with it though. I feel like I'm still getting things done. It's tough, though, to stay motivated when the weather is so gloomy. The sun came out this afternoon for a bit and caught me completely by surprise. It feels like it has been quite a long time since we had the last full sunny day.