Fall is here?

#latergram Chicago at sunset is the most beautiful place at the end of summer.

Chicago on Monday

3:30 pm. Chicago is throwing a little tantrum.

Chicago on Friday (last week)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago has been angry and confused recently. Thunderstorms, dark skies, rain, cold weather, mixed with warmth and sun. I had to wear my wool winter coat today and I was not very pleased about that in mid-September. It just feels wrong. I want to wear a lightweight coat and cute boots and a funky scarf! There should be leaves turning different colors, not this dreary miserable mist. Everyone in the office has blankets on their laps and coats on throughout the day because our AC unit is confused. College students don’t know if they should actually put pants on, or just continue wearing leggings. Women stand shivering at the L stop in only a pencil skirt and blouse. It’s chaos!

————-

My youth group started up again last week. We have 8 young women now, and they are making their way through Ruhi Book 4. In addition, they are teaching children’s classes, learning how to guide at the House of Worship, and hosting Feast once in a while. All this while balancing crazy school loads and extracurricular activities. I continue to be so proud of them.

————–

Over the last few weeks an experienced Treasurer from another Baha’i community was kind enough to spend time with me, teaching me some Treasurer skills. A few members of our community have also spent a lot of time helping me with the transition. (I’d call their names out here but they know who they are.) This experienced Treasurer went through the trouble of making an entire chart of accounts for me to use. Funny enough, I am in budget season at work right now and a lot of what I’ve been learning through work can be applied to being the Treasurer in a Baha’i community.

It has not been a particularly easy thing to learn, but I am finding that as long as I get some decent tools and make a checklist for myself, it isn’t as hard as I thought. Granted, we have a small community in Wilmette so that helps a lot.

Remember

Tulips in springWe saw a red-winged blackbird attacking a hawk, protecting its territory. It seemed to be winning.

We played golf with pine cones and sticks, and stood on a stage with no audience but our own words and thoughts.

We are remembering what it means to be warm again, to leave the windows open and smile in the sun.

We are remembering what it means to breathe the air with no restrictions.

We put bare feet to the ground and eat frozen yogurt while standing on the sidewalk because it just feels so good.

(this is exactly what we needed)

We’ve been in the prison of Chicago winter, and it has broken us down into fearful creatures that whisper in the corner about the weather, as though it will hear us and maliciously dump another foot of snow on top of our frozen, soggy little heads.

First Bulls game

Good view! Bulls game.As a kid, I watched Bulls games with my family, mostly because Michael Jordan was playing and the Bulls were the hottest team out there. We are not a sports-watching family (thank God) so that was the extent of it. I was offered tickets to attend Bulls vs Bucks (Milwaukee) through work and they had an executive suite with food and drinks, and of course the Bulls won (we left before the game ended to avoid being in a crowd of 21,000 people leaving a game at once). It was a good time, though I’ll be honest and say I probably didn’t watch the game as much as other people…the food was pretty distracting!

Recent Things

1. Discovered the Skokie Lagoons a few weeks ago. The animals there are a bit odd…a heron that dove underwater and never seemed to come up, a squirrel that seemed rather fearless and acted a bit too human…but it is beautiful! Of course, now it is getting cold and isn’t nearly as much fun.

The famous entertainment center that I fit in my car.2. Found an entertainment center in an alley the other day. Managed to get it into my Honda Fit…after many contortions, laughter, and sore muscles. Emily had the back end and I had the top, and I am proud of us for wedging it into my car. I had been looking for something for our local Baha’i community’s  sound equipment, since the old setup had wires and all sorts of stuff sticking out and it looked messy. Re-wiring everything took some time (I have never claimed to understand this system), but now it looks a lot cleaner, and it was free. Double points!

3. My FB newsfeed is an odd mixture of lonely political posts (which I ignore, or that give me a reason to finally hide a person from my feed), photos of some friend’s amazing vacation to some island (which I also try to ignore because it makes me hate the coming winter even more), and links to articles that I sometimes read because a lot of the people I’m friends with have good taste in cool stuff.

Every other photo is of babies. Babies everywhere. Excuse me while I go find a baby to squeeze. There are plenty around, I just have to go pick one.

4. Saw a documentary a few weeks ago at the Wilmette Theatre (which is now a non-profit), and the director was on hand to answer questions. It was a beautiful, thoughtful look at Burma, a country which the director obviously loves. They Call It Myanmar…see it if you can.

Scary, at the Oriental Theatre5. Explored Open House Chicago on Saturday, which is “a free public event that offers behind-the-scenes access to over 150 buildings across Chicago.” It was awesome. The trick is to start out early in the day, because as it got later the lines got longer to get into some places. Even though it was rainy and dreary outside, I had a fantastic time. Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited and has fascinating architecture. It was fun to interact with the tour guides at various locations and learn about the history of some of these locations. I’ve decided that Art Deco is one of my favorite design styles.

6. I recently joined a Ruhi Book 8 Baha’i study circle (The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh), even though I’ve done part of this book before, it feels good to get back into organized study. I read Baha’i books all the time, but this kind of thing is different. It is a good group of people and it is in Wilmette…local is so good.

7. Can you tell that I like lists? I’ve never been a storyteller, I am more of an…information-sharer. Because I want to share my life with my audience (within certain parameters, or course), I have to find the easiest way for me. This is what works right now. I’ll share other stories in a more subtle way.

Coat shopping with @elimyp on Sunday. "It's perfect for you. You look like an astronaut." That is all the encouragement I needed. #latergram #winteriscoming8. Winter is coming. And I am not pleased about it. But I am prepared. Bring it on, cold miserableness. I’m ready for you.

Officially Autumn

not many left

I am trying to accept that cold weather is coming. I am shopping for a winter coat, switching my wardrobe, and throwing myself into fall cooking (pumpkin pancakes, anyone?). I went apple-picking with some friends last weekend, which is more about the experience of wandering in an orchard than actually picking apples.

Changing leaves.

I love the outfits in autumn (hellooo, hats, scarves, & boots!), but I get very cold very easily. Living in Chicago for 20 years has been a bit of a test, needless to say. The summers make me forget how truly miserable I feel in the winter. I know that not everyone feels this way, but this is my blog, so I’ll be open about my hatred of the gray, dreary winters.

My next fall venture is figuring out what to do for Halloween (my favorite holiday).

Strange warehouse in the suburbs. It's where estate sales go to die.

A few weeks ago I was doing errands in the suburbs and saw a sign for an estate sale that was pointing toward a giant warehouse building.  I was curious and had time on my hands, so I pulled over and wandered around inside for a while. It was organized into sections…chairs, dressers, dishes, suitcases, etc. I don’t run across stuff like this very often. As I mentioned to a number of people, it felt like the place that estate sales go to die.

The only thing I ended up buying was a brand new 80s-era Kodak drink cooler for picnics for $5 (now that I’ve looked at similar items on Ebay, I’m pretty sure I got a good bargain). Part of the reason was that my condo just can’t fit much stuff, and part of it was that I don’t tend to carry much cash on me. It looked like it was a family-run operation, and while it felt a bit strange, it was a fun experience. There were prices on most of the big items, but I think you could probably easily negotiate.

As winter comes and as I get older, I find myself retreating into smaller groups of friends at a time, trying to have deeper relationships with people. I’m also cooking and baking a lot more, but that is par for the course.

Winter

This winter has been a strange mix of busy/quiet. I haven’t traveled, though I wish I could get out of Chicago. Every event that is completed at work is a victory, but then it seems like no matter how many I finish, I still have the same amount of work on my to-do list.

And then, because I had way too much going on with no time to take a break, my body said “enough!” and I got a bad cold. I’ve missed 3 days of work and have watched all the television. Yes, all of it. And for me to stay inside and do nothing is nearly impossible. I have my little “recuperation station” set up in the living room, with my laptop open to my work email and buckets of tea, vitamins, and tissues surrounding me. I am surprised the tv and laptop haven’t burned out by now.

bridge pattern

So there isn’t much going on, really, just a mix of unusually warm weather mixed with painfully cold weather, a little snow, ice, and fog, and my dreams of summer and a vacation by the ocean. I am learning to bake more things (painfully failed at making soft pretzels). I am trying not to waste my evenings, and was on a decent workout routine before I got sick. I miss my friends as I always do, and love morning brunches and quiet afternoons. I wait not-so-patiently each week for a new episode of Downton Abbey, and am horrified that I can’t watch Sherlock until May. Sometimes I meet new people and it makes me happy.

This is winter in Chicago.

Perfect weekends

We fill the house with smoke and the smell of thick-sliced bacon, and the snow is turning to slush outside but blankets wrapped tight surround us. We will put on a good movie, or a really terrible one, or both in one day. We will eat breakfast for lunch and a banana split for dinner. We will rush out of the house on a Sunday morning to make it to noon prayers at the House of Worship, pinch the cheeks of some beautiful infants, stomp our feet in the cold of Chicago snowy winters, and listen to the choir.

We will smile at each other as our noses freeze and we curse the cold, but it is just an excuse to be closer to everyone we love.

These are the weekends that fade, but the moments are just perfect.

the stranger

When we met, she was sitting on the curb in a parking lot, surrounded by bags of groceries. Her lined face was a story of decades, her hands curled up. The unrelieved black of her dress framed eyes that had stories in them, and the barrier between us of few common words prevents me from saying too much more about her.

She made the noises of machine guns to indicate her home country, and said that she cleaned homes, that her sister was trying to teach her to speak English but it was hard. She laughed a lot, and so did I. She reminded me of the women I would see sitting on park benches in Israel, staring into the past or talking to each other.

The Mississippi

I don’t know her name. But I think about her several months later, after I delivered her and her groceries to a small apartment where she invited me in for tea but I couldn’t stay. I think about how we don’t interact in any meaningful way with strangers, that I have begun craving that connection with people I barely know, if only for a few moments.

The Interrupters

On Friday night I went to the Gene Siskel Film Center to see a documentary film that a friend (Aaron Wickenden) edited called The Interrupters. The cast and crew answered questions after the showing, which was a powerful experience after having just watched them on the screen.

From the website:

The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed.

The Interrupters captures a period in Chicago when it became a national symbol for the violence in our cities.

…The Interrupters — who have credibility on the streets because of their own personal histories — intervene in conflicts before they explode into violence.

This film is incredible. See it. Talk about it. It will make you laugh, cry, and think. If you want to bring this film to your community, contact the filmmakers.

Venturing out!

I “suited up” and braved the snow and cold (it is 23 F outside right now) to take photos. Obviously it isn’t a good idea to drive yet, so I stayed local. Everyone that I saw was smiling & friendly. Most businesses were closed, but the grocery store was open.

The roads near me have mostly been plowed:
Roads have been mostly plowed.

But there were places where the snow was nearly up to my waist.
Buried in the snow!

My car is trapped, we’ll see how much I’ll have to shovel in the morning.
My car is stuck.

See more photos on my Flickr page.

11 am Wednesday – blizzard is mostly over!

And now the cleanup begins. This is what I woke up to today at 9 am:

9 am Wednesday

By 11 am, I ventured downstairs to do laundry, opened the back door to see this snowpile AS TALL AS ME. Our snow removal service was working in the middle of the night and is still out front trying to get us out.

Piled up snow by the back door.

The front door is completely blocked, there is a snowdrift at least 3 ft tall. Had to take this through a window, you can’t really open the doors. The mailbox across the street is nearly buried.

3 1/2 ft snowdrift by front doors

I’ll venture out later when the wind dies down and I can actually take my DSLR out. These were all taken with my cameraphone, and I’d like to give you some perspective on what it really looks like. Some places are reporting 17-20 in of snow, the airports are pretty much shut down, and 1,000 cars were stranded on Lake Shore Drive last night. So glad I had no reason to be out last night and today. Hoping everyone stays warm and safe!

As of 11 pm

I have been home since 3 pm today. You may have heard that Chicago was anticipating a blizzard. Well, the wind is the strangest part for me right now. Everything is white outside my window at the moment, and snowdrifts are starting to build:

11 pm snowdrift

I took this video at 9 pm. It is much louder and more windy now, a solid wall of white, no visibility. I am wondering how crazy the world will be when I wake up. I’ll definitely take my DSLR out to take photos.

Something about storms like this, the hibernation, the silence, how everything shuts down…it is surreal. I haven’t had any power outages (thank God), and I have a ton of food, so I am just cozy in my little cave here. Obviously I won’t be at work tomorrow, so I put everything on a USB drive to work on from home. Will try to keep you updated!

Multi-media

Last night I went to the Delorean & Miike Snow show at the Metro.  It was fantastic.  I enjoyed myself immensely.  It was pouring rain when we parked and went in, my feet were aching at the end of the night, and a couple of guys started arguing in the middle of one of my favorite songs.  I asked them to stop, and they did. 🙂  These are the things that make a show, outside of the music itself, of course.  If you don’t know who these bands are…check them out.  Trust me.

In other news, Nineteen Months has been updated for the month of “Glory“.  I am SO impressed with the talent involved in this project.  Check it out, tell your friends!  You can also join our Facebook page or add us on Twitter.

The story behind my photo: I was approaching the deadline, on my lunch break, and worried that I had nothing to contribute.  After failing to capture anything that I liked by Lake Michigan or in the gardens of the Baha’i House of Worship, I went into the lower level of the House of Worship to say hi to friends.  One lovely lady and her daughters were there, and as their mother worked on some things, I had a change to talk to the girls and take photos.  Elsie, the littler one, insisted on seeing the photos after I took her picture.  She is really rather young, but already knows about cameras. 🙂  It made my day to see such lovely children, and I got my photo.

This coming weekend is the Religion Communication Congress, in which several Baha’is and publications will be receiving awards.  I have several friends attending, and I can’t WAIT to hear their stories.  I’ll also be reuniting with one of my dear friends that I served with in Haifa…she and I have some catching up to do!

Finally, I updated my blog layout.  The previous one was rather awkward and this one is much cleaner.  I also added a contact page.

A Haifa morning

This morning was a Haifa morning.

I stepped outside and the air smelled like (home), like stone paths, the bay, flowers, and a breeze off the mountains and desert that lifts you up…

Warm and cool, the kind of cool that only requires a light sweater. Full of excitement.  The gardeners watering plants as I walked up the mountain, past the wall of flowers, the silent woosh of doors as I stepped into the cool stone corridors.

The kind of morning where I would bounce into work, 8:30 am, ready to do what I was meant to do.

It is a little different here, this new home, my new place. My car transports me to work past elegant Victorian homes, antique shops, schools, and the train.  The streets are wider, and I can’t see the water from here (but I know it is close).  After the last few years of being able to sense the water nearby, it seems odd to ever consider living away from water again.  Whether the Mediterranean or Lake Michigan, it seems right to base my orientation on the water.

I wanted to hold onto the feeling of a Haifa morning today, just walk with my eyes closed, pretend that I was still there.  Pretend that the stones were digging through the thin soles of my shoes, that my flatmates and I were rushing out of our apartment to get to work (service), that I would walk up a flight of stairs to the lunchroom at 12 pm and the same old crew would be sitting at a big table.  That I would take a walk around the Arc with a friend, would stop by the Food Center for an afternoon snack, and walk/slide down the steep slopes at the end of a long day to pray in the Shrine of the Bab before going home.  Every late night conversation with my friends, staring out over the lights of a city on the mountain.

This is Chicago, though, I am half a world away and this is life, now.  Some things are the same, and I still drink too much caffeine during the day, and I am working in a job that I love.  This is my life, now.  I don’t write or speak using British English anymore, I’ve reverted back to American.  There are no hills or mountains here.

I am holding close the feeling of a Haifa morning, and feel grateful that I remember what it feels like.

All about photos!

It seems like I spend a lot of time snapping photos, editing, and posting.  I try to post photos within a week of taking them, mostly because I feel like it is a waste to just keep them on my hard drive where no one can see them.

Nylon Parla has had two themes posted in the last few months: “Festive” for the Baha’i month of Honor, and “Cold” for the Baha’i month of Sovereignty.  I’m in awe of the talent of the photographers that I work with, and having a lot of fun in the process of being challenged to take photos according to the theme assignment.

I went to the Shedd Aquarium on Monday for the first time in many years.

Since it was a free day AND Martin Luther King Jr Day, there were a lot of kids. Kids in strollers, kids screaming & running around, kids pressed up against the glass, kids with cameras…you get the picture.

My friends looked at me funny when said I wanted to hug the giant fish.  I guess I find strange things cute.

The problem with the Aquarium is that you have to pay extra to see some of the cooler stuff, and we just didn’t have the time or patience to do it.  I have discovered that I much prefer the Art Institute and the Field Museum…more to see for the cost of a ticket.

Do any of you have a favorite museum?

Still here

I am still here.
In silence with the water forming lakes around my boots,
with the golden red leaves forming islands around my feet.
I am…in a few places at once.

With tall buildings, cold people, fascinating streets
(that dream is farther away now, diminishing every week).

In warm sunshine where we bowed our heads
always, always among the cool stone and cypress trees
(I will never leave)

Among these people, this place, my home, the familiar roads
at first, breathless, dormant, unmoving
and now,
and now…
this is where I should be.

My new camera

After several years of desperately wanting a digital SLR camera, I finally gave in and bought a Canon EOS 1000D.

I am having fun, and I actually do carry it everywhere with me.  Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to take a ton of photos and really play with the camera, but I’m learning slowly, and luckily I’m surrounded by some patient photography-inclined friends who are willing to explain things to me.

I’m loving what I can do with these close-up shots, I took a whole series of photos at the Garfield Park Conservatory the other day (which, by the way, is fantastic, and FREE).  It was a bee day, so there were people explaining bees, little kids running around, and honey tasting.

My problem is now that my photos are often better than they used to be, so I have trouble deciding which ones to post.  I want to post all of them!

A summer picnic

The sun was gliding past the trees, we found a wide patch of sun that set the grass aglow, peered into our eyes, and warmed our skin.

The proper ingredients for a picnic are:

1. a thick blanket, large enough to lay down on

2. sunglasses

3. a picnic basket (trust me, it makes it feel much more authentic)

4. good people (any combination of 2-6, more is too chaotic and being by yourself is depressing)

5. a nice park surrounded by beautiful buildings and trees (buildings optional, but make for a nice backdrop)

6.  delicious food.  I prefer Persian food if you have some way of keeping it warm, and some fresh fruit.

Discoveries of small importance

1.  Gluten-free sugar cookies dipped in chocolate pudding are heavenly.

2.  Aprons never fit me correctly.  I always have to adjust them, which makes me ignore them altogether.  But I really like the idea of an apron.

3.  Driving a car means fixing it when parts wear out.  Which means that my bank account complains to me of abuse.  It also means that I have to deal with mechanics, which is always a funny experience because I really don’t know anything about cars.

4.  An advantage to living in Chicago: there are always visitors coming through.  It helps alleviate the missing-of-friends that happens when you are part of a community that is always moving across the world.


5.  Really looking forward to the weekend.  Work picnic, family, home.  I desperately needed a 3 day break, and was kidding myself that I am not tired. I’m exhausted.

6.  I had a few friends over the other night to help me finish off a tray of lasagna that I made.  I highly recommend having a lasagna party, and close it out with ice cream or pudding if you can. 🙂

7.  I really missed seeing live music over the last few years.  It had been such a long time.  Going to Summerfest and seeing Stevie Wonder & John Legend in concert was absolutely fantastic, and I need to take advantage of these opportunities.

8.  I’m on my 6th wedding invitation of the year, and we’re only halfway through!  Whew…

One year

It has been 8,760 hours since I came home.

Since I left home.

It is two places now, where I am and where I was.  It is pieces of memories that float to the surface with no warning and leave me gasping for breath.

It is silence in the Mother Temple when I close my eyes and pretend that I am in the Shrines, or standing on the sea wall, or walking down broken stone paths.  I am still near the water, but instead of a warm sea I swim in the cold lake, instead of gardens I am stand in concrete city landscapes.

One year.


So much and so little has changed.  There is a little more knowledge behind my eyes, a little more heaviness in my sighs, more smiles and more quiet.  There is less need to be here and there and everywhere at once.

Work happens every day from 8 am-5 pm, Monday through Friday, just like I prayed for.  Last night I signed a short lease for a place to rest my head at night, and a closet for my clothes.  Resigned and happy.

I miss you and you and you and you and you and most especially you.

In between places and time are the photographs, the Saturday morning brunches, the days upon days at Bahji, the Friday afternoon soccer matches, Thursday nights that were never-ending, Monday’s game night and dinner, Tuesday farewells to the pilgrims, and praying my way down the mountain.

Home is a jumbled mess of prairie grass, the call to prayer, the flat roads, the mountain stairs, a million flowers, snow, sand, sky and no starlight.  Haifa and Chicago.

My eyes have seen and

my heart has known and

my faith is this: I will never be alone.

A few minutes in between

These last few weeks have really done a number on me.  I finished up my work helping organize the 3rd Annual Baha’i Choral Festival at the Baha’i House of Worship.  The Festival was wonderful, you can read about it here, and watch the hour-long performance here.  (There were readings as well, but had to be cut out of the DVD.)  Then I moved over into another job, which is quite fun and keeps me very busy.  I’m only 4 days into it, and already feeling a bit like I did a year ago, right before International Convention.

I live out of suitcases and my car, my friends’ couch and my parent’s home.  My work is so far from home that commuting is painful.  But I get to see my friends a lot more now, and being in the city is wonderful.

On the continuing theme of my clumsiness, I knocked over a glass last weekend, and promptly sliced my finger open as I tried to rescue it.  Luckily it wasn’t too bad, and thank God for medication.

I went to a lovely wedding this past weekend.  That, combined with several friends visiting from out of town and the usual weekend festivities, created the deadly combination of no sleep, crazy meal schedules, and getting nothing done on my to-do list.  My poor to-do list is feeling quite neglected.

Twitter was sending me into a spiral of distraction, so 9 days ago I took a break.  I don’t really miss it, and I’ve stopped thinking in terms of tweets.  Maybe when things settle back down I’ll get into it again, but right now I’m enjoying the silence.

Frog prince

We went for a walk on Sunday near the river, and I found my frog prince (ok, he is a toad, but the principle applies).  Unfortunately, he did not change into a human being.

Mr. Toad was quite adorable, however.  Just look at him!

Salsa!

Last night I went salsa dancing for the first time in nearly 3 years.  I couldn’t believe it has been that long.

And then I stepped out on the dance floor, and it was painfully obvious that not only was I very rusty, but woefully untutored.  Thankfully, the majority of the people that I danced with were very good, gave me lots of tips, and were quite patient.  I learned more last night than I have in years.

However, one individual was particularly self-involved.  Sporting a suit and greased-back hair, he thought that he was an exceptional dancer.  No interest in being a good dance partner, he really just wanted to show off.  Unfortunately, he got a little enthusiastic, and ended up kicking my leg.  Very, very painful.

As I hobbled away, I found my friends, who are regulars on the salsa scene.  When I told them what had happened, they started laughing.  Apparently this guy is rather…infamous.   haha.  Well, I’ve been initiated, I guess!

Outside of that rather amusing incident, it was fun and I’m glad I went.  Even though I’m limping today.  🙂

The Superbowl? What is that?

Superbowl Sunday in the United States tends to be a day that people have parties, eat lots of junk food, and are glued to their flatscreen televisions to watch American football.

On Saturday night I went to a friend’s house for a lady’s night/sleepover.  It was fantastic, of course, and when we woke up this morning we made ourselves a feast of eggs, hash browns, and pancakes.

After spending a lazy Sunday around their apartment, we finally decided to get out of the apartment and get dinner.   As we drove down the street, Emily, Juliette, Sarah, and I realized that our plan was very different than everyone else’s.  We were going to Whole Foods, dressed quite nicely, and were going to watch “All About Eve”, a classic film.  Our dinner consisted of very healthy items, including fruit.  I know, crazy, right?

I must say that we managed to successfully avoid the testosterone-laden events of the day.  It really was not a planned thing, but I am very happy with the outcome.  Thank you, ladies.

Midnight musings

It is quieter when the world around is blanketed with snow. The house is silent, my family asleep, and I am considering the pros and cons of going to bed in the next half hour.

This morning, as I stepped outside into a world turned white by frozen precipitation, I realized that getting my car out of the driveway was going to be so much fun. My car has a few things to equip me for the winter months:
1. A ice scraper/snow brush (mine looks like this, mostly).
2. A blanket/extra coat in case your car runs out of gas or gets stuck somewhere.
3. A few pieces of cardboard (I learned this trick a few weeks ago when my car got stuck in snow…put them under the tires, and voila!).
4. Bottled water
5. After doing some mental inventory, I realize that I also have a tripod, a mouse for a computer, sunglasses, cds, a book, and two extra pairs of shoes. Those items, however, have nothing to do with winter, and everything to do with the random nature of my life these days.

I got stuck at the bottom of the driveway, of course, and did not have time to shovel myself out. As I got out of the car to get the cardboard from the back, my neighbor came over and offered to push the car into the street. Whew! I had to repeat the process of getting the snow off of my car again tonight, but luckily did not get stuck again.

These are the mundane details of my life.

I went to a proper musical the other night, at a proper theatre. I think that the last time I did something like that was when my roommate in college got us tickets to the Lyric Opera House as my birthday gift.

We had two devotionals last week in our home. It was wonderful to spend time with so many lovely people…and of course there was a potluck dinner, which just makes everything better. My childhood memories are filled with evenings at our home with many people crowded into our living room, the chaotic and joyful dinners, prayers and Baha’i gatherings.

Goodnight, snow.

I still have blisters on my feet.

There was this man that we saw every day.  He was neither young nor old, tall or short.  Slightly balding, with a mustache, the kind of man that would blend into the background.

He walked up the four steps to his elderly mother’s house, sometimes with bags of groceries, unfailingly polite and slightly shy.  The five women of our house knew who he was, but only one or two of us ever found out his name.  He brought his mother outside, gently unfolding her wheelchair on the sidewalk and guiding her into it.

The old Italian neighborhood still looks the same.  There is fresh paint on some of the houses, including ours (it is still “our” house, even though none of the original roommates are there).  The prices have gone up at the old hot dog stand and there are new buildings over by the hospital, but the streets end in the same places and the sidewalk still leads to the train.

Wandering with a purpose.  Even when I have nowhere in particular to go, I have a hard time sitting still.  The idea of park benches and peaceful afternoons is appealing in theory, but in the five years of residence there seemed to be little opportunity.

Going back to the old haunts is too painful, still.  There is too much attached to those places, little moments that eat away at me if I let them stay too long.  Unwelcome guests, they settle in the corners of my brain.

I remember the clack clack of boots on city sidewalks, it is comforting to hear when there are hundreds of people swarming to get home or drown their sorrows or listen to the latest podcast or watch the football game or eat dinner or hug their three children.

Chicago in the rain and fog is a heartbreaking place, the buildings are stark and bright against the glow of sky.  Invest in a warm coat and a strong heart, and a comfortable pair of shoes.

Around a corner

there are patterns in hallucination

there are a dozen ways to look down upon a place you once knew

I know those summer afternoons in a city,

watch as the flowered sun dresses of the elite clatter by

the shiny shoes of the well to do reflect sunlight

more painfully than metal.

I love the patterns of leaves in golden sunlight

as cars rush by, not understanding my pace.

there are things I remember, just around the corner.

Snowstorm

I thought I was going to escape Chicago without getting hit by cold weather or snow, but I was wrong. We awoke Friday to a world buried under inches of snow.

Check out these before and after pictures from Flickr that I found of Naperville’s Riverwalk.

My plans for that day to drive into the city for The Dawning Place Open Mic and spend time with friends were completely trashed, since the highways were clearly unsafe. My mother and I ended up spending the day cooking together like we did when I was young.

Saturday night was wonderful. Thanks to everyone who made it out here to my going-away party, I really appreciate it. It was a blast and the perfect way to leave.

Moving

I have one month until I leave for Haifa. December 6th.

The checklist continues to shrink. I have found a person to fill the spot in my house in Chicago, have gotten all of my paperwork done, purchased my plane ticket, and have begun packing my material possessions.

This is WAY more work than I thought it would be.

Somehow, over the last 2 years that I have resided in my house, I have accumulated a vast amount of stuff. Some of it is important stuff…my Baha’i library is something I am very happy about. (My parents have had a lot to do with making sure I have so many books!) I’m going to be living at my parent’s house for the next month, and that is where my stuff will be while I’m gone.

There are other things I’m realizing that I just don’t need. It feels really great to go through my life like this.

Preparation for Haifa is a strange process. I have had very little time by myself recently, so have not really thought about it. And honestly, I’m not going to get myself worked up over it. Yes, I’m moving to the Holiest place on Earth (to Baha’is), for 18 months, and it happens to be across the world, and I’m going to be doing a job that I am pretty sure that I will love.

There will be tests that come along with it, and people give me advice about Haifa (which I choose to listen to or ignore, whatever suits my fancy). But in the end, what it boils down to is that I am looking forward to the opportunity to have a job that I love, to work on my weaknesses and overcome tests. I’m excited about taking advantage of deepening classes, of all of the wonderful things I’m going to have access to there.

I’m eager to experience change, both inwardly and outwardly.