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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All is well with the world. Back in Chicago, party on Friday.

Ok, now go and do something productive. This blog is definitely a waste of time. 😉

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I heart this town…

I’ve had the opportunity to be a bit of a tourist in my own town recently. I normally have a really hard time with tourists…they block sidewalks, gape at perfectly normal things (like the man painted silver on Michigan Avenue), and cut me off in traffic in completely unexpected ways. Resident Chicagoans are crazy drivers sometimes, but highly predictable.

ANYWAYS…I am really trying to take advantage of living here for as long as I can.

The train to HELL. As I like to call it…

oooh shiny…

Chess= AWESOME (by Millenium Park)

Relief by the river on Michigan Avenue

Lighthouse on Lake Michigan (taken by me on J’s camera)

The Cloud Gate, of course.

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It is amazing how much sunlight (or the lack thereof) can affect my mood. It has been gray, gray in Chicago (big surprise), and yesterday’s sudden sunlight made me goofy.

Ok, well, I can be goofy with no assistance, but…you know what I mean. In the late afternoon yesterday some friends and I were walking by the Lake and discovered a shiny new playground. I love playgrounds, and they’ve gotten a lot fancier since I was a kid. For a few minutes, I was just swinging in the air…no thought or reaction required. We should do these things more often.

The other night I was by Navy Pier at midnight…a large group of acquaintances and friends walking ahead of me. I looked up at the skyline of the city, foggy and misty with the remnants of rain, harsh lights softened by the moisture in the air. My recent restlessness was stilled for a moment by the knowledge of my city

certain streets
horrible diners
street performers
tucked-away parks
little italy, greektown
rush-hour avoidance
lake shore drive (how many times have I driven on that road in the last 5 years?)

The accumulated details about the place I live. No other city’s downtown has buildings that are tall enough for me. Everything I compare to Chicago.

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I miss the CTA

Is is strange that sometimes I miss riding the L around Chicago?

Mostly, I think I miss the stories that come out of late night Red line madness. The Blue line isn’t nearly as interesting.

Maybe I’ll use it more when the weather gets warm. (Have you ever noticed how many things in this city get put off “until it is nice outside”?)

oh yeah.

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Last Tuesday I went with my father and sister to the Girodet exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (1767�1824) was a French painter, and the exhibit is overwhelming. I must say that he is my favorite artist…the vibrancy of color and attention to detail is amazing, and the way he used light is simply astonishing.

The Burial of Atala is definitely my favorite painting in the exhibit, but I was impressed by the attention to detail in Hippocrates Refusing the Gifts of Artaxerxes.

If you see Pygmalion and Galatea, note how Girodet manages to transition from marble to human flesh in Galatea’s body as he shows her transformation from statue to a live being.

The exhibit is at the Art Institute until April 30th, so I suggest you check it out ASAP. And give yourself a few hours…you’ll need it.

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Hazarding the morning commute

I went to work this morning on my bike. I work in the Loop. Those of you who have had the blessing of driving/biking in this part of town know that it can get crazy, especially at rush hour.

I could have taken the bus, but I am trying to take advantage of the fleeting warm weather, so I hopped on my bike (after fixing the chain, which had come off and tangled in the gears). There are 4.32 miles of city streets to attain my destination.


I don’t look like a touristy biker. I have my jeans rolled up, bike gloves on, and a messenger bag slung ’round my shoulder. I look tough (honestly!), and I’m perfectly willing to slam a hand down on the hood of your car if your bumper is trying to get fresh with my bike. I’ve done this at least 3 times this summer. I figure the car can take it, and my body can’t. Simple self-preservation.


For the most part, Chicago drivers respect bikers, mostly because they don’t have a choice. We’re everywhere, and you don’t want to invoke the wrath of the biker gods. 😀 But you’ve got those few who seem hell-bent on taking city streets at 45 miles an hour with no concern for those of us who do not have a V8 engine and metal surrounding us.

I had a bus honk vociferously at me, and at least 3 taxis protest my presence on the road. Well, I’m trying my best to stay out of the way, haha. I find it especially amusing when pedestrians get a look of terror on their faces as I zoom past. I’ve never come close to hitting a person on foot, and I’m not planning on starting now.

The best part of the day so far was going about 15 mph over the river on the bridge. On my right was the south loop with the morning fog/smog burning off, to my left the skyscrapers towering gold and silver glory. Phenomenal.
Also, please see my recent article in One Magazine. That is all.

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The Back Porch

I studied on the back porch with the setting sun warming my feet and a soda near at hand.

The sounds of the city, construction, cars, and chaos do not detract from the utter peace and enjoyment of such an activity.

If you’d ever like to study with me, you know where to find me. At least until it gets too cold outside, in which case I’ll be at the coffee shop down the street.

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Well, look at that!

Hey, my birthday is in exactly 1 month. Fascinating.

Have not made plans yet, and I’m not sure that I will.

I’m going to go enjoy the city now. How can I not, with the sun shining and my bike waiting patiently for me?

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Differences combined.

It is 99 degrees F outside right now, and the neighbors opened up the fire hydrant on the corner…kids and adults are playing in the water. I wish I could get a picture of it…such typical hot summer day behavior.

I went outside for a few minutes, and since it is not humid outside, the heat felt great to me. I’m sure if I was out there for more than 10 minutes I would not feel that way, but for those few minutes…

I watched a Chinese father and his 4 year old son chasing each other through the water. A white woman held her neighbor’s black child on her lap, and the “Italian mafia” guys on our street had the grill outside and brought lemonade. The Russian woman brought her toddler out to splash in the water, and an older Indian couple walked up and down the street, the woman wrapped in her sari.

I could be at a memorial service right now, or at a beach with many of my friends, or exploring the city…but right now, I am really enjoying the peace and quiet. Seeing the crowd of lovely, amazing people all splashing around, regardless of the fact that they looked different on the outside, was just completely wonderful.

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I love this town, but sometimes…

I took the red line today. This means I was on a train for 1 hour, most of which was underground.

The train used to be my favorite form of public transportation. The hypnotic motion as it hurtled toward its destination, watching all different kinds of people get on and off…there is nothing like the Chicago El system.

But now I come home to read the news (since television is so atrocious), and all I see is this:

London attacks

Toll climbs in Egyptian attacks

A young woman murdered in a bus bomb attack in Turkey is to be remembered at the wedding of her best friend.

and more and more and more. For some reason, being on the bus does not worry me as much…there is something about being underground, though…I see a higher police presence at the public library, on the trains, and on the streets.

I really, really like my bike. Especially right now. But even with all of the world news, and the tension created by the attacks all over…there was standing room only on the red line today.

The H.W. Library

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Lower Wacker Drive

The tunnels under the skyscrapers
feel abandoned, misused,
dirty and alone but somehow
still mysterious.
We don’t know what is behind
those pillars, walls, fences, and doors,
hiding away the basement of the city.
Maid and bellboys from the big hotels
rendevous in dim orange light,
and trucks unload unmarked boxes
at unmarked doors.
I speed through with quiet efficiency,
hugging corners and discovering
new things each time I drive
through Chicago’s hidden side.

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The Beach & Food

snapped out of it, thanks to assistance from various areas, not the least of which was prayer.

I spun on the beach with hands above my head
and my wrap flying in the air
and walked into water that was warmer than expected.
Felt that gravel bite my toes in unreasoning viciousness,
with sharp contrast to soft lake sand sliding under my feet.
I deluded myself thinking that I played in the water,
knowing now that the water played with me.
Surprised that I must hold my skirt so high
to avoid waves crashing against me.

New recipe! (Especially good for starving college students, haha!)
Chicken breast
1 clove garlic
1 onion
1 can of stewed tomatoes

Slice chicken breast into long strips or cubes. Chop onion and garlic into small pieces. Place all of this in a crock pot or on the stove on low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook in crock pot for 4 hours, or on stove until done. Serve over rice.


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The sun hides from me…

A very, very old shoe!

Part of the “fun” of growing up means that you can’t go outside when the weather is PERFECT. The most exposure I’ve had to the sun today is grabbing lunch to go across the street downtown in the Loop. Everyone was in their business suits, the men with rolled up sleeves and sunglasses, the women remarkably more casual than in the winter months.

I love downtown Chicago.

EDIT: It is the next day, and it is 50 degrees and windy today, instead of a beautiful 80 degrees. *sigh*

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Every little thing…

It is perfect. There is that breeze with the mixed up smells of spring, car exhaust, and humidity. The back door is propped open and we’ve put the deck furniture back out (what little we have!). It took me 10 minutes to plant some flowers and basil in starter pots, so we will hopefully have growing things soon.

We don’t have the heat on anymore, and windows are open throughout the house. Bikes were brought up from the basement and snow shovels are taking their place. I live in flip-flops in the summer, and have begun to wear them every day now.

My last final exam is on May 4th. Summer will then begin, and I can’t WAIT. Conferences, weddings, family and friends visits, beach volleyball, biking, rollerblading…and work, of course. 🙂 Our home will be full of the sounds of laughter and music, with back porch and kitchen philosophy dominating in the evenings.

I love Chicago. I love life, and its accompanying trials and joys. I love warm weather, and friends, and family. I love serving the Faith, and seeing the amazing change that is happening in the Chicago community.

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Out for the day

I rode the train today, red line to roosevelt bus.
I missed the Roosevelt stop, and ended up in Chinatown.
Too immersed in my book, I did not mind the delay.
I come home to discover a gift of chewy chocolate chip cookies
(which are horrible for me, but I eat one anyway, as a treat).
In my mind, it is summer already…

Say a prayer.
Step back, take a breath…
Say a prayer.
Aware of the combination of
pain and joy.
I pray.

Suddenly, the time has come to register for my classes for the Fall. This is the last time that I will do this in my undergraduate career. I am actually looking forward to it, because as a senior, I can get into the classes that I want to get into. Well, hopefully. 🙂

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This is what I see

There was a man on the bus
who talked on his cell phone to an unseen face
explaining how to cook pork chops
(just salt, that is what I use. Or squeeze lemon!)
He talked about not having taken a vacation
in over two years.

The train conductor has a red beard and sunglasses
and a large silver earring.
As he collects tickets, he passes me several times.
He asks if I am writing him a letter, then says,
“I never get letters, just angry slurs.”

So many of these suburbs have little historical sites.
“Well #2, drilled 1924”
Europe and China would laugh at our youth.
I have seen two buildings that look like
landlocked lighthouses.

The municipal buildings and town halls
all manage to look like funeral homes.
(white columns, red brick, and black iron lightposts)

I love my city…even the extended parts of it.


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These are the colors we chose for our dining room wall “mural”. It is all done now, but you’ll have to come over to our house to see the finished product. 😀

(Actually, I haven’t gotten around to taking a final picture yet…will do that soon, I promise!)

We painted it all in 2 evenings, and did not spill a drop of paint ANYWHERE. We’re just awesome like that. Mad skillz in my house, yo.

I forgot how much I like painting! Especially using a roller…haven’t done it in such a long time. My dad, being awesome as he is, taught us how to paint when we were young, which is useful when you grow older and have to do things for yourself. I’m also not afraid to wield hedge clippers, a lawnmower, a handsaw, and various gardening/home repair tools. I may not be an expert, but I can get the job done. 😉
PS: my internet magically started working again after nearly 2 weeks of sulking. Silly computer. *shakes head*

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The #12 Roosevelt

There was a woman sitting contentedly at the bus stop today.
She had a green knit hat. It looked homemade.
I sat next to her on the small bench,
pulled out my textbook to read (exams next week).
She asked what I was studying in school.
“Business, and then hopefully start my own someday.”
She smiled, with a wistful look in her eyes,
“I wanted to do that.”
We talked about social security, politics,
and the politics of family in which the oldest sister dies
and she, the middle one, is responsible for their parents.
“I am 50 years old. I don’t know how I am going to do it.”
The bus came, she sat in the back, and I stood nearby.
One of her counterparts was already on the bus
and with more in common to talk about, they conversed.
I only had a few blocks to go, and as I stepped off the bus,
she called after me: “Good luck!”
and smiled lovingly.
I waved goodbye and smiled back,
breathing in bus exhaust as I walked away.

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This is for you, D-Rab:



It is snowing here, really snowing, not just that little fluffy stuff that melts immediately. I want to make hot chocolate, start a fire in the fireplace, and if I can drag myself out of the house, go sledding.

And I know I’m feeling better when I suddenly get the urge to start cooking again.

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I found a sunset!

(click to enlarge)

(Near my house)

At the hospital where I work, I type in the names of the different clinics every day. My favorite is “Nuclear Medicine”. I smile every time…I get an image of doctors blowing things up. Weird.

What kind of doctor specializes in elephant skin diseases? A pachydermatologist. (yes, I made that up. I’m sorry for inflicting that on you.)

5 finals this week. wheee!

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The Weather

I am like a freaking barometer. Whenever the air pressure changes, I get headaches.

Combine that with my unfulfilled caffiene addiction…today has been yucky.

So my migraine is making me nauseous and dizzy. What a wonderful Friday night. 🙂

Counting down till the end of the semester…only a few more weeks left…

(Despite what it sounds like, I’m actually in a pretty good mood!)

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Our house is having a Halloween Party on Friday at 8 pm. If you don’t know where we live…ask someone who does, or email me. Costumes required! (why do some people even question having to dress up for a Hallween Party?)

Pumpkin Patch in Chicago (The sign reads: ATTENTION Pumpkin Shoppers. If you happen to break the stem its yours. Parents Watch Your Children.)

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Happy Swedish (Sweetest) Day!

Ok so about 4 people will get the title of this entry. Its all good. It took me a really long time to figure out why all the skyscrapers were lit up pink for the last week. 🙂 (for Breast Cancer Awareness month, apparently, but I’d like to think it would be for Sweetest day, too…)



(The Art Institute of Chicago)

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I live here

I live where new townhomes are side by side with 100 year old rowhouses.

I saw two firetrucks drive up quickly to the hot dog stand on the corner while I waited for the bus this morning. Turns out they were just getting breakfast.

There are always 1 or 2 police cars parked outside the pizza place down the street. They like to eat there.

The street near my house seemed perfectly fine, but the city decided to tear it up for no apparent reason. There are tar footprints on the sidewalk.

My bicycle had vines growing on it when I rode it to work today. Literally wrapped around the spokes.

I was in heaven when I went to Vogue Fabrics tonight, especially when I discovered the 50% off sale. Good thing they closed within 5 minutes of my arrival. I would have spent money, and that would have been bad.

I rock at cornbread-making, even when I have to substitute some ingredients (ie rice flour for regular flour). mmm.

I filled out 2 forms and went to 2 different offices to organize a Bake Sale in the Union for the Baha’i Association. I was a bit baffled.

I sprained one ankle over a month ago, but now both ankles are hurting. Again, I am baffled.

We haven’t turned on the heat yet.

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