Sunday, August 30, 2009

No. 55

1. You know you [Mari] are destined to be soul sisters with someone when:
a. you meet her at church
b. she is wearing a long red beaded necklace that she has wrapped several times around her neck
c. within 45 seconds of introducing yourself, you are already talking about:
-feminine energy in a living space
-Audre Lourde
-women's and sexuality studies in a religious context
-vintage dresses
-organic peaches

2. The taste of baked thyme with olive oil, the surprising sound of new husband and wife speaking in Arabic from the kitchen. Hannah now has an Arabic last name, Lebanese cooking utensils sent from new relatives she has never met with exotic names like Noor and Fadi, and I now have access to all the za'atar I could ever want. And I want a lot.

3. "It looks like a tornado swept through a church camp you guys."
This is how I best spend my Saturday nights, this is my kind of party: pumpkin soup and hymns, 3 glasses of pinot grigio and going home with an entire apple pie.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No. 54

1. The way an Australian woman pronounced the word "ginger"

2. A quiet, warm morning at work. Listening to Andrew Bird and rain simultaneously. Eating orange-honey toast, drinking Sencha tea. I can feel fall on my skin already, and I relish it.

3. A tall man with long beard who topped his head with a yarmulke came pushing a stroller into the cafe. He ordered a hot chocolate [one of the most charming orders I must say], and I followed up, "Anything else?" He peered into the stroller and whispered, "Naomi, do you want anything?" The infant remained asleep. "Nope, she doesn't want anything," he told me.

Living in Rogers Park and working in Evanston, I am an instant part of a couple communities of which I am not actually a member: I live next to Loyola which unfortunately makes me feel like I'm living in a giant frat house sometimes; I work next to Northwestern which quite wonderfully makes me feel like I live in J. Crew catalog sometimes. And I particularly enjoy the Jewish community on the North Shore. I love how many times I hear the word "schlep" a day. I love the way my boss always exclaims "God bless!" whenever I do something well--"You're cleaning? God bless!" I love that meeting folks from Israel is a daily occurence. I love how many people I've met named Saul. I love how I have seen more yarmulkes in the past three months than I have in 22 previous years of life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No. 53

1. My mom delighting with me in a recent victory for an issue very near and dear to my heart: food production. I am so very lucky to have a mother who cares so much for what I care for--who doesn't pass off my little interests or projects as youthful idealism, but takes a genuine interest in my passions. I love her so much.

2. Talking on the phone with my beautiful friend Megan for two and a half hours. She told me about her recent purchase of Georgia peaches from her farmers market in South Carolina, and observed to me that, "Peaches are really the most majestic fruit. Something about them is almost they don't quite belong here. Something about their velvety skin or the color or the way they taste...I think they are a particularly royal fruit."

3. I would have never imagined Hannah's wedding ceremony taking place in the crowded basement at City Hall early on a Saturday, but there was something sacred about it despite the strange and comical circumstance. She looked lovelier than I've ever seen her, and radiated a happiness with which no one could argue.

Watching my friends turn into the people they were created to be--against my own expectations for them--has been such a gift of the growing-up process. Of course Hannah would get married in a silk blue dress, of course she would forget that she should probably have a bouquet, of course her husband would have had her ring made in Jordan, and of course right before her vows she would tell the judge, "Let's do the damn thing!"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

No. 52

1. I am enchanted with the way my little goldfish June swims all about her bowl as soon as I walk toward it. She’s just like a puppy, with her tail waggling around and her fins flapping up and down. When I put my head up against the glass, she jets to the top, in anticipation of food. I’m not kidding—either I have a genius fish, or everyone seriously underestimates the thought and emotional capacity of aquatic life.

2. “One of the things I love so much about his voice is how calming and soothing it is, almost like melted dark chocolate, in a small stainless-steel cup.” –Caitlin the Once-Dreadlocked but Perpetual Poet

3. I took myself out for a candlelit dinner last night, and I must say, I make a very hot date. I treated myself to some delicious Riesling, an entrée of Chicken Chardonnay, and apple crisp, with a second glass of Riesling. I invited myself for a casual walk on the beach after dinner, basking in the simple pleasure of a full belly, and an evening well-spent.

A married friend of mine recently revealed to me that she envies my independence; not too long ago she was able to frolic about the city on her bike, go out for solo dinners, or waste an entire afternoon in a coffee shop with no one but a journal and book for company. Now she and her husband bike most places together, she rarely eats dinner alone, and the romance of mysterious evening solitude at a coffee shop is slightly lessened by the fact that her husband always knows where she is and what she’s doing.

Of course these small changes do not lead her to consider annulment, but they are signs that life is now very different for her. And while of course I envy her for the stability, comfort, affirmation, affection, and consistent encouragement her husband brings her, I am inspired to be more thankful for this season of alone-ness (“sola-ness” as my Chilean amigas and I affectionately called it). I will appreciate these little gifts: modest flirtation with the loveliest of waiters, time to read a favorite book over a glass of wine in the overripe August night air, a walk on the beach—just me and George Harrison, then back to my small but bright apartment for an early attempt at sleep delightfully failed by late-night texting.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No. 51

1. The dish washer at work told me, "I was in a really bad mood this morning. But then I started singing 'Monster Mash' to myself and I felt better."

I stole his idea; it worked.

2. Waking up naturally (!) at 4:45, 15 minutes before my alarm clock was set to do the job. Not being incredibly sleepy despite very little sleep. The first order of business was to kill a bug fluttering about my kitchen on very many legs; initially I screamed and ran in the opposite direction but then got it together and squished him fearlessly. A very adventuresome way to begin the day. Making 36 scones for the morning rush seemed like childs' play in comparison.

3. Writing this from an internet cafe between my two shifts. Internet cafes remind me of dirty hole-in-the-wall places all over Europe and South America with slow connections, a skeazy guy behind the counter, and much fluorescence, and with keyboards whose keys are all in a jumble of alphabet spaghetti and strange accent marks; of course I find them terribly nostalgic and charming. Thankful for a nice-sized break between shifts. Thankful for time to sit and be productively lazy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

No. 50

1. Two interactions:

Sous-Chef: What did you do this morning—raid Annie Hall’s closet?
Me: Shut up.
[But what I’m thinking is: Finally! Dream come true! Annie Hall fashion comparison—I cannot be stopped!]

Me: Could I possibly get a dollar in quarters?
Barista: Do you want three dollars in quarters??
[I actually said that. Because it felt so so true.]

2. Doing nothing all day with someone with whom nothing comes so naturally, which is so much lovelier and richer than doing something all day with any other someone with whom doing something is such effort. The nothingness so much more meaningful and delightful than any something-ness; feels as comfortable and pleasant as being alone, except better. Reminds me of that Rilke line I like so well: Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.

3. The colorful shadow of stained glass on the light wooden pews at church.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

No. 49

1. Smore fixins, a handmade quilt, a costume change, and meteor-spotting on the beach whilst conversing about the splendor of RVs, romantic Medieval notions of space and sound; singing showtunes.

2. Fun at work. I told the kitchen staff I would buy myself a cupcake the first day Head Chef didn't yell at me about something. I am always taking orders incorrectly, forgetting to consolidate the edamame salad, neglecting to put out the welcome mat in the morning, adding the incorrect amount of lavender to the lavender lemonade. BUT, yesterday, he yelled at me not once, not even a bit! A cupcake was had, congratulations given, and text messages were sent out among my co-workers: "Head Chef didn't yell at Mari today!" 'Twas grand, all of it.

3. Thought I had no coffee left in my small red mug; in fact had two more large sips!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

No. 48

1. Among a lot of Gap-wearing French-speaking kids whose uptight skinny yuppie moms won't let them eat Goldfish, Meg and Soren stand out as my favorites--totally cool, laid-back, confident, they get their clothes from thrift stores and can eat whatever they want. Their mother is this tall willowy bespectacled woman who paints, and their step-father an Allen Ginsberg doppelganger with a massive beard and Intelligentsia t-shirt.

Today as I walked into work, about to teach a ballet class, I spotted Allen Ginsberg Doppelganger himself and ran up to him in full enthusiasm: "Are you Meg and Soren's dad?!" He gave me an odd look, then softened into recognition and replied "Yeah!"

"I loooooove them," I told him, "They are the COOLEST kids." He said, "Yeah, they're awesome. I am so lucky they're in my life."

"I can imagine," replied I, "I mean, I'm lucky they're in my life too; I really love having them in class. They're very very special kids."

Then Allen Ginsberg got all wistful and wonderful. He said, "When I think back, even two years ago, I thought they had taught me so much...but now I realize how much more they've taught me since then. I've learned more from them than anyone. I'm just so so lucky."

2. A quiet night of baking, "Mad Men" playing on my laptop, the kitchen buzzing and warm and my hands caked in almond flour and egg whites--just as I like them.

3. A really, really excellent voicemail message from Andy. Talk about being lucky to have someone in your life.

Friday, August 7, 2009

No. 47

I'm not sure if my constant desire to move speaks more to my love for travel, or to the fact that I have a serious problem committing to doing any one thing for more than 3 minutes. I fear the latter, which is why I'm trying to be more Zen about things. Jon explained Zen to me last week: "Hm. That's a feeling. Now I gotta do a thing."

Okay, so, I am trying to not let my desperate desire to flee to Guatemala or St. Petersburg make me unhappy to be right here in Chicago, Illinois, a city I desperately missed while living in the beautiful land of Chile.

Much like the wife half of an old married couple, I am trying to remember the twinkle in my eye, the spark for Chicago I had but a few months ago when I visited during my summer vacation from teaching in Santiago. My first day back, I paid a visit the Whole Foods on Halsted, a place I missed more than would be appropriate to share. It was one of those really sunny winter days in Chicago when the air is frozen still but the rest of the city seems so vibrant and in-motion, awakened by the blessed light so dearly missed during our charactertistically grey Februarys in the midwest. It was one of those very rare experiences when I don't think I could have been happier to be exactly where I was.

Sometimes Chicago can seem a bit stale, and the lure of the road--air travel, that is--makes me itchy for new adventure. But, if I am going to re-commit to life in Chicago, a city where everybody knows my name and they're always glad I came, for the most part...I can't think of a place I'd rather be than this beautiful neighborhood of Rogers Park. There are a million magical things about it, and I keep discovering hidden treasures--a sculpture garden, a couple of houses that look like they came out of a Southern storybook, an apartment building covered entirely in ivy, a tree on the beach.

Thank you, Rogers Park, for continually dazzling me, even if my mind loves to wander anywhere but where it is.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

No. 46

1. A beautiful rendition of one of the most beautiful songs, "Panis Angelicus" this morning at church. That song gives me chills, reminds me of my mom because of the Lady Di connection, and the woman who sang it was sweetly hugged by her husband afterwards.

2. A conversation that made me feel loved

3. Listened to Alexi Murdoch's lovely, melancholy, hopeful poetry set to guitar as I dug my feet in the sand on the beach. The moon pierced the light periwinkle sky and laughy people picnicked (picniced? pic-nic-ed?). I am thankful for the beach and thankful for non-muggy but warm summer nights of comforting solitude, and garlic-dill salmon waiting for me at home.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

No. 45

1. I heard the name of a town: Culpepper, and I repeated it all day because I loved it so much. Culpepper, Culpepper. Perfect.

2. At 9:43pm I decided that a cupcake was in order. I knew a cupcake shop in the vicinity which closed at 10, but I knew I would have to hurry to cram a 25-minute walk into fifteen minutes. Rushing over with laptop and huge stuffed bag in tow, the minutes ticked along and I became sweaty and unhappy, and at 9:54 still blocks away I gave up, defeated and pungent.

I looked to my left, and quite magically, a cupcake shop appeared, open til 11. What are the chances?!

And this is where I delighted in the best carrot cupcake I have ever tasted! TELL me there is no God. TELL me.

3. The part I like most in this wildly popular video:

is at about 4:25, when the bride and groom link arms.

My favorite part of the traditional Western wedding ceremony is watching the groom's face as the bride walks down the aisle. Forget the bride; the groom is the real show. And not just because I love men's fashion.

Watch the groom's face next wedding you attend, given that the groom is remotely emotional and the bride is any prettier than an English bulldog, and you will be compelled to smile, if not release a small sigh.

I had never seen my married friend Tyler so much as heartily laugh, but at his wedding when Kelli walked down the aisle in this big beautiful gown I thought his head was going to float up to the ceiling of the church like a helium balloon, he looked so happy.

Anyway, I love how pleased and content this groom looks, like "Yep, that's my girl," and they look so joyful walking the rest of the aisle together. Not over-the-top explosion joyful. Just so happy.