IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOY

For nearly a year-and-a-half, I have been a slacker.

Not in life, might I add. Just here on the Internet. (Well, technically, just on my blog, as there are other sites where you would find articles by me … Just nothing personal about my life and my beloved Uptown.) I have decided that I will no longer be lax, and look to return to blogging with full force … Yeah, we’ll see about that one, huh?

I need a creative outlet right now, and besides painting, this is what I do best. I never meant to take this long of a break, believe me. But to be honest with you, my life hasn’t been all that exciting for the past 16 months … Unless you’re me, that is. To me, it’s been amazing, awesome, mind-blowing, stupefying and magnificent. (It’s also been wracked with more heartache than I ever thought possible, but that’s neither here nor there.) Thankfully, it’s been more good than bad, though, and no matter what, I now know I can survive anything …

At least I can with him by my side.

“SWF SEEKS SWM BETWEEN THE AGES OF 25-35. MUST BE EMPLOYED. MUST LOVE FAMILY, DOGS, SMALL BABIES, SERIOUS CURVES AND MUSIC. MUST BE FUNNY. MUST BE ABLE TO PUT UP WITH MY ALMOST SMOTHERING BOUTS OF KINDNESS. MUST KNOW THIS COULD ALL JUST BE A PHASE. MUST KNOW I NEVER MAKE PLANS, AND I COULD FEEL DIFFERENTLY TOMORROW. MUST BE DARK ENOUGH TO SEE MY LIGHT. BEARD OPTIONAL, BUT PREFERRED.”

That is from a blog post I wrote Jan. 27, 2010. A blog post that would eventually lead to my life being forever changed.

I was inspired to write “Training Myself to Look Around” after a Red Line ride downtown one morning with an older, yet attractive neighbor. After writing said piece, I got really embarrassed, wondering if someone would point out the posting to him before I ever got a chance to explain why I wrote it. (I wasn’t interested in him, and just needed to make sure he knew that before he got the wrong idea! Ha.) I tried to track him down through our Sheridan Gardens page on Facebook, but to no avail. Instead, I ended up sending a message to one of my other neighbors I saw on there, simply because he had great taste in music.

We had met a few times before, him and I. We had said hellos in passing, but nothing more than that. But after the initial online exchange, we decided that we would meet in person. So, plans were made for the following weekend for me to cross the courtyard to hang out with him and his roommate. No big deal, I thought at the time … Just a couple of soon-to-be friends, Elton John’s “Honky Chateau” on vinyl, and a few laughs. What more could a girl ask for?

Obviously, everything.

I liked him immediately, but not in a romantic sense. I found him to be funny, self-deprecating, smart … I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find him to be attractive. But it was more in a “you’re-cute-let’s-find-you-someone-your-own-age-to-date” kind of way. We were friends for a while. For months, there would be late-night conversations about everything from music to family life … Religion to our dating pasts. For hundreds of hours during the beginning of 2010, we never ran out of things to say.

It was during the summer that I knew that I loved him. It wasn’t like having a crush on a friend. (Believe me, been there, done that, bought a few T-shirts.) No, this was way different. I couldn’t imagine ever having to spend a day without seeing him … And I couldn’t imagine that he’d ever look at me in the way I saw him. But, boy, was I wrong.

He too had been feeling the same way for a while, he would later tell me. He said his stomach would turn when he’d see me coming up the back sidewalk to their apartment, and that’s when he knew. But both of us, unsure because of past hurts, doubt or whatever, never put ourselves out there, scared of being let down, afraid of disappointment. So, for months, we just looked at each other longingly, both of us wondering what the other was thinking. (And both secretly knowing how much we cared for one another.)

A rare bottle (or two) of wine at the beginning of September helped change all of that in a night … One kiss, and all at once, we were no longer just friends. We were best friends … And we were in love.

I’d like to say it’s been a whirlwind of romanticism, the kind of courtship you would read about in a Jane Austen novel … But, truth be told, as far as him and I, it’s always just been an easy ride. There have been some flowers, chocolates, and the like. Sweet dates, many a foot or back rub, and a wonderful trip home to meet each others’ families. We simply love to be around one another, each spending our time away from the other just waiting to be back together. Yes, we have become that couple that even we would have hated this time last year. I have been told that our love is infectious … That when you are around us, it’s hard not to see everything we feel for one another.

He makes me laugh on a daily basis, even if all I feel like doing at the moment is crying. He values my opinion, and thinks I am one of the smartest women to ever walk this earth. He sees my beauty, both inside and out, and finds me to be both sexy and funny. (Even if I do make up my own words and phrases sometimes, it’s one of the things he loves most about me.) Most importantly, he “gets” me … I never have to worry about being anything other than who I honestly am. (And the same for him, as well.)

All he has to do is put his arms around me, and the rest of the world, and all of my worries, seem to fade away.

We’ve been going through tough times lately, and it has only proven to me how much I love him … How strong we are. Together we have survived something that most will thankfully never face in their lifetime. But through that, we have grown to love each other on a whole other level that neither of us thought possible. For that I am forever grateful … And for that I am forever changed.

I never expected that in him I would find the one person I had been waiting my whole life for. The one person who would love and understand me better than anyone who had come before him. This week marks two years since I climbed the stairs to the third floor of 4720 N. Racine Ave. in Chicago for the first time … Now I take the same flights daily to get to my home. Our home.

It’s funny how quickly life can change. It’s times like these where I try to hold on to that. I still can not believe I put out into the universe what I was looking for, and I got everything I wanted and then some. (Plus, he looks good with or without a beard, so bonus points there.)

With all that being said, I just wanted to say thank you Hunter. For everything.

And ask you, my readers, to forgive me for being away so long. It wouldn’t have been that interesting anyway, as it’s hard to write about living when all you want is to be holed up inside with the man you love.

(But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

FALL BRINGS MEMORIES OF SUMMER

I made a pumpkin-pecan pie this weekend. Not a big deal, one would say … Unless you see it for what it really is. It is Fall.

Now it’s no secret among those that know me, but this is my most-favorite of seasons.

I am trying my best to embrace the falling leaves, watching the sidewalks slip into vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow. I repeatedly fed into my craving for apple cider recently, possibly to some detriment of “calorie counting.” Two days of breakfast consisting of amazing pumpkin bread from my friend David has me dreaming of making my own. (And of carving a Jack-o’-lantern some time this month for Halloween.)

But all of my Autumn excitement is also making me look back at the Summer past.

I’m not sure what it is about having friends and family come visit that always makes me see Chicago in a different way. In some ways, even after four-plus years of calling the city my home, I still feel like a tourist myself. Yet, when someone new comes to visit, I find myself delving even deeper into vacation mode, seeing things anew, or simply new. This Summer was a good one for me in terms of welcoming people I love to the city I love.

My friends Abbey and Amber were the first to come this summer, as they made their way from North Carolina. Here for an engagement party for Abbey’s brother, getting to spend time with me was not the focus of their trip, but equally important to us all.

I had yet to meet their son Aiden, now two, and being able to hold an actual conversation with someone so little continues to blow my mind, all these months later. Spending the day downtown with this amazing family was something I needed for the soul, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. Abbey joking on the way up to their hotel room that it was like “Amber was getting ready for a first date,” as she got dressed to meet me that morning; The ability to wrap my arms around Amber for the first time in years and hug her tightly; The joy of seeing Abbey’s excitement in being caught up in the middle of filming for a Vince Vaughn movie; Watching what wonderful parents they both were as we played around Millennium Fountain and Aiden’s delight at getting to play in the water … These are the things I will take away from their visit, along with the anticipation of seeing them again.

My Mom was next, just later that week, although I can’t really classify her as a visitor anymore.

Having spent a lot of time in Chicago by this point, her idea of a vacation is simply living my life with me. There’s no need to take her to the Willis Tower, Hot Doug’s or any tourist traps. On my couch with a good book or simply walking Huxley around the block is more-than pleasing for her. There are always the “normal” things we do when she comes, shopping (for me of course), hanging out at my apartment, having sushi at least one meal and taking my dog to the beach.

That’s the best thing about my Mom, she’s simply happy being with me.

As long as I get her some Garrett’s Popcorn, that is.

July brought my birthday, Pitchfork Music Festival and a slate of “regular” visitors.

Arriving on the actual date, my friend Jake drove overnight from Alabama just to spend time celebrating with me. As I knew it would be crazy around the time of my actual birthday, I didn’t plan anything special, just letting nature take its course towards fun. Spending the day downtown in Millennium Park, lying on the grass with Jake, could not have been a more-fitting gift for me this year. Watching the kids playing in the fountain, women dancing to the salsa music from Pritzker Pavilion, and my photographer friend Leah (also up then from the South) capture all of the things she was seeing for the first time was simply icing on the more cupcake I had to celebrate.

The rest of the weekend was split between Union Park for Pitchfork and my back porch for conversation. The pairing of the four of us was just as much fun as ever, even having to ride in the back of Jake’s truck in downtown Chicago brought some semblance of joy.

I am still brought back to the weekend each time a plane flies overhead. I can hear Jake saying. “There’s Chip and Kalah,” even though, sadly, I know that it’s not.

I love my best friend. After 17 years with her by my side … cringe, yes, we are old … every moment we have to spend with each other is just as great as the first.

For months, I felt guilty every time someone else would come to visit, knowing Robin wanted to be up here with me as well. When she called mid-summer to confirm a weekend trip, it laid plans I most-looked forward to. Like my Mom, she has been her several time before, so it never seems to be a touristy trip. Like my Mom, she is just happy to be around me, my couch becoming a place of refuge for days of catching up and dissection of my single life and hers with a husband and children.

Leisurely afternoons downtown, led to even more laid-back evenings back in my neighborhood. And whether it was meeting a bratwurst down by the Chicago Public Library or having al pastor burritos at the tiny place, Carmela’s, by my house, Robin got her fill of all-things Chicago. (At least the things that were important to me anyway, including getting to meet some of my friends here.)

And like my Mom, we had to go to Garrett’s.

The best thing about family? You can go nearly a decade without seeing them, but you know that you love them just as much as you always did.

Last month brought my last visitors to Chicago, my cousin Paul and his family. Here for a few days, I only got to spend their last night here with them due to work conflicts. But I am thankful I was able to get up with them … even if for only a few hours. Having never met Paul’s wife, Ofelya, I wasn’t sure how she would react to his long-lost cousin honing in on their vacation time, but I was immediately family to her as well. And her to me. Their son, Blake, provided most of the entertainment for the evening … When he wasn’t busy watching “Dora the Explorer,” that is.

It was more-than enlightening to see my cousin, now a grown man, with his family. But the time didn’t seem so far removed from the days we spent rolling down the hill in our grandparents’ backyard as children, our Mothers later picking all the Fall leaves off our clothes in time for family pictures.

See, in the end it all comes back to the leaves.

So bring them on.

LIFE, AND ITS BEACH

MY FRIEND, HUNTER, WHO WAS NICE ENOUGH TO TAKE HUXLEY AND I TO MONTROSE BEACH SUNDAY AFTERNOON, MAKES HIS WAY OUT OF LAKE MICHIGAN WITH MY PUP. A FELLOW SOUTHERNER … AND BEACH LOVER … THE HOURS SPENT ON THE SAND SEEMED TO DO HIM JUST AS MUCH GOOD AS IT DID ME.

“I need a crowd of people, but I can’t face them day to day. Though my problems are meaningless, that don’t make them go away. I need a crowd of people, but I can’t face them day to day.” NEIL YOUNG, “ON THE BEACH”

Zombies.

Every one of them.

As I made my commute downtown this morning, I was hit with that oddest of sensations.

It being a Monday, there was the normal sense of agony as everyone made their way to offices downtown and beyond. But today there was an added level of anxiety in the atmosphere, masked by an eerie silence, as I passed the throngs of people pouring out of Millennium Station. Heads down, hurriedly moving about like scattering cockroaches as a light is flipped on, most walked as if in mourning.

And I was one of them as I contemplated my return to another day full of dread following joys of this weekend. Ah, the weekend … that wonderful heat-filled-sunshine-radiating-get-me-outside-then-back-into-an-air-conditioned-apartment 48-hour period that just passed.

The first of the “summer” here in Chicago.

Following weeks of stormy weather, cool temperatures and the odd 60-degree day, Mother Nature decided to reward our patience with a week filled with digits in the 80s and slight chances for rain. Saturday was quite calm as the weather began its transition.

But Sunday … Ah, Sunday.

The minute I stepped outside to walk Huxley, I knew what a wonderful day it would be. Removing my thin sweater at 9 a.m. as we made our way around our Uptown neighborhood was the first sign of wonderful things to come. By the time we made it back home, the warming rays of sunshine had encompassed every fiber of my being, and the resulting switch in mood was palpable.

The complaints over the “sweltering” heat began early for some around me, yet I continued to revel in temperatures normally reserved for March back home in Mississippi. The window unit, left in a bout of laziness at the end of last summer, was switched on in the house as I watched my 15-pound dog pant profusely when we returned from our walk … Which left me wondering if I was the only one relishing in the quick switch outside.

I soon discovered I wasn’t.

Hundreds of canines and their smart owners covered the sand at Montrose Beach Sunday afternoon, as it seemed every dog lover had the same idea in the 80+ degree heat. Splashing through the knee-deep water and walking along the sand with my pup and some friends, Hunter, David and then Joel, I began to regain some of the spirit a lack of Vitamin D seemed to have sucked from my body. Now, I am left hoping the feeling garnered from nearly two hours spent with my toes in the sand will last.

As I sit at my desk today, facing the open window, it is taking every ounce of strength I have not to go crashing through it just to get outside.

But, since I would rather not spend the week covered in stitches, I’ll be patient.

I’ll move like all the other zombies, towards another warm weekend.

Yep. No turning back now … Summer is here.

GET HUXLEY IN THE BACKSEAT OF ANY CAR, AND HE CAN SOMEHOW FIGURE OUT WHERE WE ARE GOING. LIKE ME, HE WOKE UP IN THE BEST MOOD ON SUNDAY, WHICH ONLY CONTINUED AS WE MADE OUR WAY TO THE BEACH THAT AFTERNOON.  THE JUXTAPOSITION OF MY PANTING PUP AND HUNTER’S WINTER GLOVES STILL IN THE BACKSEAT SHOWS HOW WACKY THE WEATHER HAS BEEN HERE IN CHICAGO RECENTLY.

IF YOU EVER WONDER WHAT PURE JOY LOOKS LIKE, THIS IS IT FROM A CANINE PERSPECTIVE. I HAVE OFTEN SAID THAT FOR HUXLEY, THE BEACH IS LIKE HEAVEN ON EARTH … AND IF ALL DOGS ACTUALLY DO GO TO HEAVEN, I HOPE, FOR HIS SAKE, SAID PLACE WILL BE THE BEACH FOR ALL ETERNITY.

THIS VENDOR SHOWED DEDICATION LIKE NO OTHER AS HE PUSHED HIS ICE CREAM CART THROUGH THE THRONGS OF PEOPLE ALONG THE SAND SUNDAY AFTERNOON. THE JINGLING BELLS HAVE BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH A JAUNT TO THE BEACH, AS DOZENS SELL THEIR WARES ON WARM DAYS.

DOZENS OF DOGS AND THEIR OWNERS CAN BE SEEN IN THE LENSES OF HUNTER’S WAYFARERS AS HE SURVEYS THE BEACH. AND I THINK HE WILL AGREE WITH ME WHEN I SAY THAT THE WATER WAS ACTUALLY QUITE WONDERFUL … FOR A LAKE ANYWAY.

AS THE CLICHE GOES, “STICK A FORK IN HIM …” AFTER A QUICK SHOWER UPON OUR RETURN FROM THE BEACH, HUXLEY WAS DONE FOR THE DAY. AND RIGHTFULLY SO, AS HE SEEMS TO COVER MILES OF SAND DURING OUR AFTERNOONS AT MONTROSE HARBOR.

A (NEAR) PERFECT TWO DAYS

SPENDING AN HOUR LOOKING THROUGH RECORDS AT SHAKE, RATTLE & READ WAS NOT ON THE AGENDA FOR SATURDAY, BUT MY FRIEND KIRK AND I FOUND OURSELVES THERE IN HONOR OF NATIONAL RECORD STORE DAY. I’M NOT QUITE SURE WHAT IT IS ABOUT MY WEEKENDS LATELY … NO MATTER WHAT I PLAN, I NEVER SEEM TO GET ANY OF IT ACCOMPLISHED.

Oh … the weekend.

It doesn’t matter how my week is going at work, I am on constant countdown for Friday now that warmer weather has finally hit. When 5 p.m. came this past one, I knew I had no other concrete plans than grabbing a beer with friends that night at Hopleaf … and I liked it that way.

Cleaning house, seeing a friend I keep canceling on and going to watch “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” which another friend has music directed, were the main items on my agenda for Saturday and Sunday.

But somehow, it never seems to go that way.

My friend Kirk and I celebrated National Record Store Day Saturday afternoon at Shake, Rattle & Read. Less than $10 was spent for Sonny Rollins and XTC on vinyl, and I was proud of my finds … and Kirk’s $15 copy of “Zeppelin III” as well. Then we were off to take Huxley to the dog beach at Montrose Harbor … which thankfully wore him out for the rest of the day. When Kirk dropped us off after the beach, I told him I would come up to his place after I cleaned some, so we could hang out and listen to records.

Less than an hour later, I was standing in the middle of Target with my friend Jessica. Having gotten a ZIP car for work in the suburbs Saturday, she called to see if there were any errands I needed to run before she returned the vehicle. Although nothing was pressing for me, spending the early evening doing retail therapy with a great girl was enough incentive for me. After lots of laughs – and lots of cash – I found myself back at home … and later at Kirk’s for coffee and Katamari. (Yes, I am too old to be playing video games … but it’s quite an amazing one.)

Sunday morning found Kirk, his roommate Hunter and I waiting for more than an hour to sit down for brunch at Tweet. (Even a screaming baby at the table next to us could not override our joy at finally being seated.) A favorite place for the guys, it was my first time venturing into the “famed” breakfast spot. The coffee is great, the food fresh and the staff super friendly … Although fully worth the wait, I’ll be making it a point to go during the week now that the sun has come out of hiding.

After a necessary walk back home, we found ourselves lounging on the couch listening to Beck’s “Sea Change” as we gave our food time to digest. Next, we all headed north on the Red Line for coffee at Metropolis where we hung out for an hour or so enjoying our lattes and French presses while deciding what to do next. We agreed on “dinner” (cheese and crackers … fresh pineapple … and later ice cream) and went our separate ways, after agreeing to meet up again just an hour later.

And that’s exactly what we did, as we ended our weekend back on their couch with snacks and “Inglourious Basterds.”

It’s Monday now …

My apartment looks as if it was hit by a tornado. I never went to see my friend Amy. Thankfully, “Whorehouse” runs through June. And I have further proof of why I don’t like to actually make plans.

Besides … there’s always next weekend to accomplish all the things I failed to do.

It’s only about 96 hours away anyway.

YES, THE FACT THAT IT IS FINALLY SPRING HAS A LOT TO DO WITH ME FEELING SO RESTLESS AT THE MOMENT. AS TULIPS POP UP EVERYWHERE ALONG THE STREETS OF UPTOWN, I FIND MYSELF WANTING TO SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE OUTSIDE ENJOYING NATURE’S COLORS.

TWEET, JUST A 10-MINUTE WALK FROM MY UPTOWN APARTMENT, PROVIDED A GOOD WAY TO BREAK UP THE MONOTONY, AS I USUALLY END UP AT GOLDEN HOUSE NEXT DOOR TO MY BUILDING FOR BREAKFAST WITH FRIENDS ON THE WEEKEND. DESPITE THE DELICIOUSNESS OF THE FOOD AND COFFEE BOTH, THE FIRST HOUR AT THE RESTAURANT WAS EXCRUCIATING, AS I HAD TO WAIT WITH TWO GUYS WHO HAD YET TO HAVE THEIR CAFFEINE … AND WERE LOW ON PATIENCE. BUT THE CORN AREPOS MORE THAN MADE UP FOR THEIR DISCONTENT.

A COMMON PLACE TO FIND HUNTER, KIRK AND I HERE LATELY? ON THEIR COUCH LISTENING TO ONE OF COUNTLESS RECORDS OR WATCHING AN OLD MOVIE HUNTER THINKS WE “JUST HAVE TO SEE.” THANKFULLY, HUXLEY HAS ALSO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE “FAMILY,” SO HE’S NEVER LEFT HOME ALONE.

AFTER ONLY ONE VISIT, I KNOW THAT METROPOLIS WILL NOW BE MY GO-TO PLACE FOR COFFEE. HUNTER HAS BEEN SINGING THE SHOP’S PRAISES SINCE I MET HIM, AND EVEN THOUGH I HAVE HAD THEIR BREW BEFORE, I HAD NEVER BEEN UP TO THE CAFE ITSELF. COZY, ODDLY QUIET, AND WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF PRETENSION, METROPOLIS NOW HAS A FAN IN ME.

HUNTER, UPON FINDING SPILLED ADVIL ON THE GRANVILLE PLATFORM, REALIZED IT COULD BE USED AS CHALK. WHILE I WAS ABLE TO SPELL OUT MY WHOLE NAME USING THE IBUPROFEN, HUNTER KEPT IT SIMPLE WITH HIS “H” WHILE KIRK LATER IMPRESSED US WITH HIS MODERN MEDICINAL ART SKILLS. YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF FINDING JOY IN THE SMALLEST OF THINGS. AH … THE WEEKEND.

THE HIGHS/LOWS OF SPRING

A WEEK OR SO AGO, MY NEIGHBORHOOD WAS BLANKETED WITH A THICK LAYER OF FOG FOR DAYS. THE CREEPY AMBIANCE DID NOT LAST LONG THOUGH, AS THE DAYS FOLLOWING WERE SUNNY AND BRIGHT. NEVER KNOWING WHAT YOU WILL GET WEATHER-WISE IS ONE OF THE JOYS OF LIVING IN CHICAGO, I GUESS.

I was always taught growing up that people talk about the weather when they have nothing else to talk about.

For more than two decades, I would have completely agreed with that benign statement. Moving to Chicago changed that for me. Meeting neighbors out in the courtyard, down the street, at the corner, it’s always the first comment one of us will make.

It’s either too cold to be out and/or the snow is too deep to walk … then it hits 50 degrees for a few days and you marvel at the miraculousness that is warmer weather … a few days later and it’s in the 40s again, and the remarks center round how cold it feels even though two weeks before there was ice on the ground … it’s a vicious cycle, I assure you.

Last Monday, after weeks of fog, rain and a chill in the air, I cheated. I met my friend, Shawn, and her sister, Cody, at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Walking around the temperature-controlled rooms, surrounded by foliage, both native and exotic, it really hit home how much I longed for green. After months of bleak grays and hibernating leaves, I am beginning to ache for signs of life around me.

And they are truly beginning to show. The sun has been out this week and it even hit 65 degrees the other day at work. The tulips are coming up in our courtyard. We heard bugs and frogs chirping in a field the other day, and my friend, Natalie, rejoiced at the sighting of a bee earlier this week. (Although we both agreed said insects would hate the weather forecast for the weekend.)

And for once, they were right on the money. After a week of longing to be outside while sitting at my desk at work, now that I have the freedom to enjoy the sunshine, there is none. This morning I woke up to snow.

For it is “Spring” in Chicago. The most magical time, weather-wise, of the year.

(Well, next to Fall … and Summer … and OK … even sometimes Winter.)

LAST WEEKEND SAW THE SUN OUT EVERY DAY, ALTHOUGH IT PROVED TO BE A BIT OF A MISCONCEPTION. IT WAS STILL PRETTY COLD, SO STAYING OUTSIDE FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME WAS NOT ALL THAT COMFORTABLE.

A TRIP TO THE GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY WITH SHAWN AND CODY DID LITTLE BUT MAKE ME MORE ANXIOUS FOR WARMER WEATHER ON A DAILY BASIS HERE IN CHICAGO AND GREENER SURROUNDINGS. BUT THE CONSERVATORY ITSELF WAS BEAUTIFUL, AND SPENDING THE AFTERNOON LAUGHING WHILE DOING A WONDERFUL, FREE ACTIVITY IS ALWAYS GOOD FOR THE SOUL.

JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT IS SAFE TO GO OUTSIDE, YOU ARE MET WITH SNOW AGAIN. EVEN HUXLEY WASN’T QUITE SURE HE WANTED TO BE OUTSIDE THIS MORNING, AND AFTER A MINUTE, HE DRAGGED ME RIGHT BACK INSIDE. HOPEFULLY THE TULIPS WON’T BE TOO ANGRY WITH MOTHER NATURE, AND WILL BE HERE TO STAY FOR A WHILE SOON.

RIGHT BRAIN WINS EVERY TIME

THE BEST OF THE REST, I GUESS. I PHOTOGRAPH A LOT OF THINGS THAT DON’T END UP IN MY BLOG (INCLUDING PICKLED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AT JOEL AND JEREMY’S CHRISTMAS PARTY.) VIOLENTLY ILL AT HOME TODAY, (NOT A GOOD MENTAL IMAGE WITH SPROUTS ABOVE, I AM SURE) I BEGAN ANOTHER WAY TO SHARE WHAT I SEE WITH ALL OF YOU WHO LOVE ME.

So what’s a girl to do when she’s too sick to leave her couch … but bored out of her mind? In my case, start a new blog.

I was in the mood to create today. (Truthfully, I was actually looking forward to going to work, as the need to make something was palpable. Unfortunately, my body had other ideas.)

Midday, I began to clean photos off my laptop, only to realize there were a lot from the last year that had not made my blog or the newspaper for some reason. My mother continues to ask me every time she reads something, “Did you take that picture?” I have to assure her again and again that I did, so this is mainly for her. (Again.) Now she can see the other images that were important enough for me to document with my thankfully work-provided, but all-together crappy, digital camera.

It’s also in part for my friend Joe, who has said I write too long for him sometimes. (There is more to that statement, but since I love him … I’ll refrain.) Ah critics … So now he can just flip through and look at pictures when he just needs to occupy his mind for a minute. Hats off to him.

After going a few years without taking many photographs at all, I will admit to being a little obsessive from time to time. But as those of you who know and love me surely realize, it’s all in my search to find more beautiful balance and continued growth in this world of mine. So I guess look at this as a companion piece to “SEEN IN CHICAGO.” Where my words describe what I see here, the lens will do it for me at the other. I write what I see. I shoot what I see. Sometimes I get it right/rite. Sometimes I don’t. All part of the learning process.

Ladies and gentlemen, untrained eye chicago.

I’m thankful for those of you who like seeing things my way.

http://untrainedeyedchicago.wordpress.com/

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

THEY SAY BREAKFAST IS THE BEST WAY TO START YOUR DAY, AND I COULDN’T AGREE MORE. ESPECIALLY WHEN THAT MEAL IS SHARED WITH PEOPLE YOU LOVE. A HAPPY, LAST-MINUTE BREAKFAST WAS HAD BY DAVID, JOSH AND I SATURDAY MORNING AT GOLDEN HOUSE RESTAURANT.

Oscar Wilde said “only boring people are brilliant at breakfast.”

I tend to disagree there, Mr. Wilde. I do some of my best work with a plate of eggs in front of me, surrounded by quite interesting friends. Now granted, sometimes it can be hard to get a conversation going before any of us have had our coffee, but once the hot, brown liquid is flowing through our veins, so will the topics.

This weekend was a tale of two breakfasts. One was a last-minute jaunt to our favorite spot; the other a more leisurely brunch with a girlfriend.

Different as night and day … or well maybe as different as morning and mid-morning. But Mom was always right when she said breakfast was the most important meal of the day.

Not only can it feed your belly, it can feed your soul.

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT GOLDEN HOUSE RESTAURANT THAT HAS BEGUN TO FEEL LIKE AN EXTENSION OF HOME IN A WAY. I GUESS KNOWING YOU CAN GET CHEAP, GOOD FOOD MERE STEPS AWAY PROVES TOO TEMPTING FOR THE THREE OF US. (WHEN JOSH CALLED, I AT FIRST TOLD HIM NO AS WE HAD JUST BEEN THERE LAST WEEKEND. LESS THAN 30 MINUTES LATER, I WAS SITTING IN A BOOTH BY THE WINDOW.) I DON’T THINK I WILL EVER TIRE OF PHOTOGRAPHING THIS RESTAURANT EITHER, AS THERE IS ALWAYS SO MUCH TO LOOK AT THERE. SO MUCH PERSONALITY.

BRUNCH ON SUNDAY WITH JESSICA AT MAGNOLIA CAFE ON WILSON WAS A MORE DIGNIFIED (AND PRICEY) AFFAIR. BUT WE BOTH AGREE IT IS WORTH IT FOR THE MANGO MIMOSAS AND THE LEMON CURD THEY SERVE WITH THEIR MUFFINS, (OH. MY. GOODNESS.) PLUS THE COFFEE IS STRONG. MEALS WITH JESSICA BRING OUT MY MORE GIRLIE SIDE, AS WE CHAT ABOUT MAKEUP AND HAIR, SHOWS AND WORK, AND THE EVER-POPULAR TOPIC OF RELATIONSHIPS. SINCE JESSICA IS YOUNGER THAN ME BY NEARLY A DECADE (GASP!) I CAN ACTUALLY IMPART SOME WORDS OF WISDOM TO HER. SOMEONE HAS TO GET SOMETHING OUT OF MY MISTAKES, RIGHT?