changing graffiti

More #48WardLoveLocal

Yep, that’s me making chain mail because who *doesn’t* have a chain mail craft store in their neighborhood?



A Love Letter to My Neighborhood

In my ten years in Chicago, I’ve lived in five apartments in three neighborhoods, but it’s my most recent neighborhood, Edgewater, where I’ve found my Chicago.

cookies and carnitas

Edgewater is brilliant for so many reasons.  

I live two blocks from the lake/beach – one of Chicago’s best features.  There’s a plethora of places to go and things to see.  Within a mile of my house is two Ethiopian restaurants, seven or so coffee shops, uncountable amount of pho places, a beautiful brand-new library, two soda-fountainy type places, and tons of random art.  We might currently not really have any real food stores at the moment, but if you need Kinder hippos, aloe leaves, nuoc cham, or veladoras, we’ve got you covered.  There’s a wide variety of people and they’re friendly, smiling and talking to their neighbors.  Despite the people and places, it’s still quiet(ish), neighborhoody, with trees and green space, and not the hustle-and-bustle that other places might have.

In short, I love it.  So when I learned about 48 Ward* Love Local, a month of  discounts at local places, I was super excited.  I was even MORE excited when I learned that if you participated in at least five deals and either shared on social media or sent your receipts in, you could win lunch with the alderman.**  I have become obsessed with winning that lunch; I’m not exactly sure why.  Possibly since it looks like I have a fairly good chance of winning looking at social media.  Possibly because the whole concept of aldermen is weird.  I’ve already been to my five places, including Cookies and Carnitas (above), but there’s a few more on our household list, and a lot of pictures to share.

I also just realized that this sounds like some sort of crappy sponsored post or something.  It’s not, I just get excited about really weird things.

*technically wards and neighborhoods don’t match up, but whatever.  I love my ward too and my local neighborhoods!

**aldermen are both like the mayor and the senator of your neighborhood.  Chicago is weird.  And awesome.  I’ve met my alderman, Harry Osterman, several times and could go and talk to him at his office whenever, so it’s even weirder that I’ve become obsessed.

Hashtags as Parenthetical Commentary

I have been sick in bed for the last week and took the opportunity to read way way too many odd vampire/supernatural YA books.  As I was composing a Facebook update on the situation I found an almost unnatural urge to hashtag the hell out of it.  Specifically:

I have spent the last week sick in bed reading trashy YA fiction.  

#noshame #wellsomeshame #no #noshame!

It’s unnatural because I hate hashtags.  They look ugly, tend to pile up at the ends of things, and seem like yet another way to sell yourself, SEO your social media up the wazoo.  However, I do love parenthetical commentary (the act of adding a somewhat random or underemphasized comment to text).  #seewhatIdidthere #alsowhatIdidthere

There’s a certain allure with saying something without “owning up” to saying it. Hashtagging how I feel about reading trashy YA fiction allows me to indicate my mixed feelings without actually having to own up to either the reading or the mixed feelings.

I wonder if, as we live increasingly in a text-based atmosphere where vocal and body language nuance are stripped out, if this sort of sub-conversational comments will increase.  Even as we’ve moved to platforms where there is less text-based information such as Instagram, hashtags have become even more popular.

Note:  While this occurred to me unprompted, I am not the first person to note this behavior.  Language Log; NYT; Gizmodo; New Yorker.

Working Through Whiteness or Yeah, I read that stupid yoga article too

A couple of days ago, XOJane published an article called “It Happened to Me:  There Are No Black People in My Yoga Classes and I’m Uncomfortable With It.”  If you happen to be one of the three people who haven’t read it, it is actually even stupider than you would expect from the title. 

 Reading it, however, brought back old college memories for me, specifically of my senior seminar, Working Through Whiteness.  Yep, not only did I take a class called Working Through Whiteness, I was required to take a class called Working Through Whiteness.  And buy a book called Working Through Whiteness, which the internet informs me cost thirty-two bucks.  This is the sort of thing that is responsible for people making fun of liberal arts colleges.

 Everything else I had a choice, French or German, bio or chem, even queer versus feminist theory for my major, but Working Through Whiteness? That was the one immovable boulder in my college career.  Three hours a week for twelve weeks, a group of mainly super-rich girls and one guy and I sat around talking about… well I took the class and I still have no fucking idea whatever it was we actually talked about.  There were a few rules, though, of whiteness club. 

  1.  Never talk about our class privilege ever, even though nearly everyone was not just rich, but my family has multiple houses rich.  Just pretend you know what it might be like to be poor or at least lower-middle class.
  2. Never talk about anything practical.  The minute we get towards discussing anything that might leave the realm of theory, flee immediately.
  3. Never wonder what they would have done if any of the women and gender studies majors was, you know, not white.  This rule was so strong that it just occurred to me this morning, ten years later.  What would they have done?  Given her an A+ and a pass to study hall?

 While I don’t know what we talked about, at least much, I do remember how we talked.  We talked exactly like that stupid yoga article.  How we now realized that we were white and got stuff that “people of color”* didn’t get.  How uncomfortable that made us.  I remember some crying.  I think we even talked about the tyranny of white thinness on African American women. 

 I thought it was stupid then, I think it’s stupid now, but that’s how someone who should know better can write an article like that and be surprised when it turns out to be a bad idea.

*actual term we were supposed to use.  Something about solidarity of racial minorities against white people.  It always uncomfortably reminded me of the term colored people but those type of thoughts break rule 2. 

It’s that time of year again

…where we all take an accounting of what we’ve accomplished and all our faults that can be fixed in the New Years.

I don’t think this works well for just about anyone.  At least half of the posts/updates/tweets/stati that I’ve seen say that 2013 was the worst year ever, that people had thought 2012 was bad until 2013 happened.  I’m sure there’s some people out there who are tucking into their eggnog satisfied with their long list of accomplishments, but mostly people see where they could have been just a little bit better.

This alone disproves the allegory that my generation things that we’re the hottest shit ever and that it’s everyone else’s fault.

Anyhow, while I want, desperately, to focus on my failings,  I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to talk about my (offbeat) successes.  I have to admit, it’s hard to look at them and see them and not just what’s missing, so I’m going to take a break and watch this turtle video instead.

(fyi the cheering section is my husband and I).  Anyhow.

My mom and my sister now talk, nay not just talk but hang out constantly. The constantness is a little creepy since outside of my wedding they haven’t talked to each other in 18 (yep EIGHTEEN) years, despite living in the same small town.  I certainly didn’t make them – I don’t think you can make anyone who remembers you eating jimmies on mashed potatoes do anything – I’m going to give myself a lot of credit for the constant pushing I’ve done over the last 6ish years.  It’s not something I could see happening even six months ago, so that’s a big accomplishment – for all of us.

I drove for the first time since I moved to Chicago.  I don’t have depth perception so city driving is out anyhow, but I managed to really psych myself out about driving at all in the last couple of years.  Except for a minor problem in a parking garage, it went fine even with the weather, dirt roads, and blind curves on tiny roads that are endemic to northern New England.

While all of the new friendships I tried to start this year went bust, I’ve been able to really work on some old friendships.  My closest friends from college and I have gotten into a pattern of the odd Sunday google hangout, with or without Settlers, which has gotten me out of bed during some really difficult weeks.

“goals” six months later: Madison, WI

I was fifteen minutes into fighting with a pie chart that carefully infographiced how few of my goals I had done when I realized – what’s the point?  You know that I’m behind, I know I’m behind.  It’s better to ignore it and move on.

So, here’s some pictures from my brief time in Madison Wisconsin this year (to and from the Minnesota State Fair).  I became really obsessed with the little free libraries to the point where Miranda pulled into a ditch so I could take some pictures of the red one.

Madison Wisconsin//aesthetic snafu

Please note that this post fills not one, but two goals!  If only I had ever gotten that stupid pie chart to work…..