Thursday, May 31, 2007

and on and on

Today I have walked past two homeless men. The first one was sitting in the train station as I was going to work this morning. The second one was walking down the street as I was returning to work after lunch. I feel sad when I see homeless people. I want to reach out and do something. But then I realize that I can't possibly know what the right thing to do (maybe the right thing to do is to keep on walking) and I get frustrated with the world's problems. There are so many people out there trying to do the right thing - feed the hungry, house the homeless, teach the illiterate and on and on - how is it that we never seem to make any progress? With all the money that celebrities and rich people throw at the big issues of the day - AIDS, tsunami, hurricanes, genocide and on and on - how can these problems not possibly be solved? Every day, there is some new travesty in life. Some new thing calling our attention - a mother hanging her children and then herself, a child shot on his way to school, a baby abandoned just minutes after its birth and on and on - how can any one person find the room in their heart for it all? That's the one question I can answer: we can't. We can't possibly make room in our hearts for it all. And because we know we can't, we do nothing. An understandable response, but the one that helps the least. So if I can't fix everything, if I can't help each and everyone of the homeless people in the city, or abandoned babies, or sick persons, I can do one thing and keep doing it. Maybe this has made sense to you much earlier than it has made sense to me, and I guess in some way I knew it before. But if everyone really took this sentiment to heart, if each person did one thing, volunteered for one organization (and I'm not talking money here, but time) then maybe we would really start to make a difference in this world and there wouldn't be so many mothers who feel life is so bad that even their children shouldn't be living, or who feel they have no choice but to abandoned their child, or there wouldn't be so many men who never got the chances they needed to do something with their lives, or stop the decline, or there wouldn't be so many sick and dying people and on and on.

Just so you know, I had started to volunteer with this organization called Girls on the Run about a year ago. I did a couple of events, but then stopped making it a priority. I just received an email from their volunteer coordinator and am now going to volunteer at the Wondergirl 5K this Sunday. And I'm going to make the commitment to continue to volunteer with them.

Feel free to tell me what you're going to do!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day

Like many Americans, I filled up the gas tank (with expensive gas I might add) and drove this weekend. We visited Mr. H's family in Cleveland. It was the usual, fun, relaxing, sitting around weekend. The drive there was the usual boring drive through Indiana and half way through Ohio, though we did manage to successfully navigate taking Lake Shore Drive to the Skyway instead of going through the construction on the Dan Ryan. Once there, we hung with Mr. H's large family. There was a lot to catch up on. The youngest has just graduated from college and is contemplating law school and a possible move to Chicago. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a medical crisis with one of the nieces, but things are looking better. Mostly I hung out on the back porch and drank and chatted. I did mange to see my old roommate from college, Mrs. T, and her son. It was good to see her, though the visit was too short. There never seems to be enough time to do everything, but then, there never seems to be anything to do.

There was a lot of traffic on the drive home, and I was having to pay a lot of attention to the other drivers all zooming to end their weekends. For the most part, I was content to cruise the speed limit and stay in the right lane. At one point, I actually had the opportunity to catch the scenery, which really isn't all that much in Indiana, and I've seen it so many times. But this time, I managed to see something different. I saw the place that the Indians (Native Americans) lived. I had come into a little valley of sorts and for a short time there were just fields and I could imagine Indians walking, hunting, gathering in these fields. Living along the rivers and steams. There were no roads with cars crisscrossing the state at 80 miles per hour. There was no state called Indiana, there was no such thing as an "Indian."

Now I sit here in my air conditioned office, in front of my 21 inch computer monitor and shake my head at the hubris of my ancestors. Another little vow today to leave the world a slightly better place than I found it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

To every thing there is a season

Yesterday I had the luxury of having about 45 minutes to "kill" before my hair appointment. It was beautiful outside, so I stopped at the Starbucks, got an iced coffee, and sat and read. So nice. Nice to sit outside and read. Nice to watch the people go by. Nice to wonder what kind of behemoth dog that woman had. It was a Newfoundland. This time of year is so pretty, every thing is in bloom, the trees have leaves, it's warm (but not too hot)...yes, it's Spring. Of course, in Chicago, Spring only lasts about two seconds before it moves into full fledged Summer with crazy humidity and soaring temperatures. But I'm not complaining. I like Summer too. Every year, as I finally shed the coat, I wonder how it is I walked around all winter with this extra five pounds draped over me. Of course, when it's five below, I wonder how it will ever be warm enough to walk around without a coat, without a light sweater even. Such is the way of life, of seasons. If it weren't for the frigid cold, we wouldn't enjoy the warmth so much, and if it weren't for the blistering hot, we wouldn't long for the snow. Just remember, don't bitch about it so much that you forget to enjoy it while it's here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Nulla dies sine linea

In Diane DiPrima's memoir, "Recollections of My Life as a Woman," she talks about how from a fairly early age (high school and then after she's dropped out of college) she dedicated herself to writing every day. She talks a lot about how this is a major part of her craft. At one point she relays a story about listening to a radio interview with a composer and the interviewer asks him how he became so famous. The composer says that every day since he was 12 he played the major and minor scales. He even reiterated it because the interviewer didn't seem to get it.

Many times I have told myself that I will sit down to write something, anything every day. I think I probably started telling myself that in high school, when I became aware that writing to me was more than jotting my feelings down in my journal. Oddly enough, that was when I didn't need the journal as much, and my journaling slowed down significantly. And, as you know, that's one of the reasons I started this blog, to try to get myself to write something, anything, every day. And, as you also know, I don't always hit my mark. But I at least make an effort (of course, like my dentist would say - making an effort to floss your teeth every day isn't going to save you from that filling. Only actually flossing every day is going to do that. Or, like Yoda would say - oh, never mind, you know what Yoda would say).

Diane also made a commitment to being a Writer in more than just the sitting down and writing every day way. She gave up college, she lived in poverty, working only 20 or so hours a month, scavenging wood off the streets to heat her apartment and spent her time writing or hanging out with other artists (of all kinds). Maybe it's not too late for me. Maybe, at 35, I can give up my cushy job, my nice apartment, take a job modeling for artists (or something) and sit and write every day. I can attend all the poetry readings, and art shows and book events that are out there and maybe I'll become a real writer (the one I have in my head, not the one that writes memos about our new SPAM filtering software that's being installed on every one's computers this weekend). Something to think about.

PS's

JS - Congratulations!

MM - My thoughts are with you.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The problem with kids

I babysat the nephews and niece last night, G, A and EV. It was a pretty good time. They're little kids, 2, 4 and 5 (almost 6), so they do that whole "kids say the darnedest things." Like last night, I was giving them a bath and I asked where the other bath toy container way. G informed me that mama had taken it away because "we have a problem." He'll make a good astronaut someday, because it was said in the same voice and intonation of the famous, "Houston, we have a problem" way. But it also hearkened up an alcoholic admitting that he has a problem...so who knows. Apparently their "problem" is that they like to take toys that can be flushed down the toilet and flush them down the toilet. Apparently my sister has not sprung for one of the Kohler Class Five toilets that claim to be uncloggable. It was pretty funny. I remember my sister telling me about the incident with apples tic-tac-toe game and the toilet. I asked the kids which one did it, G fingered A, A fingered EV, EV, too young to know she's being fingered, said yeah, she did it (of course, I learned from my sister than in fact the boys did it and EV is not the one with the problem). Well, bath time might not be as fun as it could be with all the missing toys, but at least it's easier to clean up after.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My story

I entered kindergarten in 1977. I went to two different schools. One in Oklahoma and one in Texas (Abilene I believe). I'm working on making a complete list of schools I went to and places I've lived. There have been a lot. I remember the name Addicks, the school I went to for second and third grade (I think). After that, the next school name I remember is Oscar Mayer in Chicago. I went there for the second half of sixth grade. Then Franklin Fine Arts Center, for seventh and eighth, then Lane Tech for my first two weeks of freshman year in high school, then Rich Central, in Olympia Fields, for the rest of my freshman year, then Lourdes, back in Chicago but on the South Side, for sophomore and junior year, then Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Ohio for my senior year. That's a lot of schools. And those are only the ones I remember. I've been reading a memoir/autobiography by Diane Di Prima. She talks about conversations with her mother and her grandmother about their past. What they remember. Things she'd like to know. I've often wanted to do this. To sit down with my mother's mother and ask her about her childhood (her short childhood as she had her first child at age 14). To learn what it was like for her. To talk to my dad's dad, all of my family members. Get it on record, before it's gone. If I have a child, they won't have this problem, or less of it anyway. It's all written down, or I'm in the process of writing it all down. Hell, they'll be able to read this blog and get a lot of the story (that may not be a good thing). So many families pass along their stories, their history. Who they are, where they came from. And so many families stay more intact than mine ever did, so the stories are not that complicated. There's no, then your grandfather divorced his second wife, not your real grandmother, but the women you call your grandmother, and remarried and had two more children...that was two year's after you were born; no, your mother only knows the name of her father, but has never met him. There are parts of my family past, me, that are missing, that I know nothing about and than I will probably never know anything about. It's good to know that there are other people out there like that...people who have to go searching for their family story. Of course, in Di Prima's case, a lot of her search stemmed from the fact that her grandparents immigrated from Italy. They left behind their story to start a new one here. As far as I can tell, my family has been here for several generations. At some point, someone in our family moved to America to start a new life. But they didn't start a new story, they left that up to each new generation for themselves. And that's what my family does. Each generation, each set of kids, breaks off from the previous group to start over. To call my family dysfunctional is putting it lightly. Why we are the way we are, why our family ties are not stronger, I don't really know. I guess I should write that letter to my grandmother and try to find out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mini vacation

Last fall I went on a vacation riding my scooter. It's a Vespa LXV. It's green. It's cool. Now, as you know, getting around on a scooter on the highway isn't recommended. And since I only had one vacation day left last fall when I needed a vacation (the other's were taken for boring, mundane things like getting married and ... well days off needing to plan to get married), going far away wasn't really an option. So, I went on vacation to Lincoln Park. I know, it's not too exciting, but it's better than going no where. I zipped over then in about 40 minutes down Fullerton. Once I got there, I rode my Vespa down Cannon Drive and checked out some of the softball games. After that, I stopped at the boat on North Ave. beach and had some dinner. I headed North after dinner, and found a nice place to rest under the trees around Diversey harbor. I played a nice game of Putt Putt by the Diversey Golfing Range before hopping back on the Vespa and going home.

OK, it was a short vacation, but still, it was a vacation.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Updates

  • Still haven't figured out why I become so annoyed. But then again, haven't really been overly annoyed lately.
  • Every day I do the crossword puzzle and the sudoku in the Red Eye. Every day there seems to be (a) at least one or two words (well really I should say at least two or four, because if you can't figure out one word, that means you really can't figure out two) I can't figure out in the cross word and (b) at least one answer to a clue I do not agree with. After we're done with the crossword, Mr. H. calls me and we discuss. He helps me figure out the words that weren't coming, and we contemplate writing letters to the editor of the crossword about some of his more nonsensical clues (yesterday's weird one was Lamenter's Words = AHME, the other day it was Hugs and Kisses = SPOON).
  • Since moving to the new neighborhood, we haven't really seen any one. Well last weekend a friend came over and we went to breakfast at a lovely greasy spoon kinda place. It was good. But this weekend, we have plans to get some of our other friends to the new hood. It's funny how moving to a slightly fringe neighborhood in this city is like moving the boonies. My sister keeps complaining that I live the longest four miles in the world. She does has a point there. There is no good route between her house and my house. And since we're used to living a few blocks apart, four miles is a lot. Anyway, we may be going out with a friend of ours tonight. And then tomorrow night, our previous neighbors (but still current friends) may be driving over to show us their new car and to go to dinner. Then on Sunday, we're celebrating Mother's Day at one of the near by parks with a picnic (that is of course, if our mother accepts, neither of us has talked to her about it yet).
  • I've been experimenting with taking the Metra instead of the L. It's closer to my house and drops me off across the street from my office. Of course, like everything, there are some good and bad things. Mostly the good wins out. Pros: It's closer, faster, smells nicer, I get a seat, I know when the train is coming. Cons: No one likes to sit next to each other, and since it's not so crowded that everyone has to sit next to someone, when you do sit down next to someone, it's a little weird, like they resent you; it's more expensive; the train only comes at certain times, which means if I'm running late, I'm going to miss a train, or if I want to go earlier, I have to go earlier by like 30-40 minutes, not just 15; the conductors on the trains are a weird; I kinda feel like a poser since I'm not like the majority of the people on the train that live in the burbs, just one of those that live close to one of the few city stops. So there's a trade off.
  • I've gotten myself back to the gym this week. The last two weeks were difficult because of the move. I pretty much wrote off going before the move since we had so much to do, and then after, I felt like I had worked out enough that week. So it's good to go back. I did Pilates on Monday and jogged on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm still trying to really tone and lose like five pounds. I know, I know, I don't really need to lose five pounds. I'm not overweight. But a few weeks ago when I couldn't fit into my tight, skinny jeans, I almost had a melt down. I think even more than losing five pounds would be to lose two inches on my hips. I'm a hippy girl. And for the most part that's OK. But I refuse to turn into all hips. I remember looking at my teacher in 8th grade, and she had huge hips. He wasn't fat, she just had big hips. It's one of the reasons I'm afraid to have a baby. I'd really turn into all hips. Just thinking about it is freaking me out. I should go work out now!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My (one of many) character flaws

I was going to blog at home last night (instead of wasting time at work...I mean during lunch), I even had a topic all picked out. But, you know, I went to the gym after work, then I drove Mr. H. to the Riv to see the Artic Monkeys (they're cold, they're simians...what could be more fun), then I came home and changed clothes, put some stuff away, entered my lunch foods into the calorie counter thingy, decided what to have for dinner, made dinner, and then started watching Must Love Dogs (not a movie I'd recommend, but we just got a DVR and we have HBO free for three months, so I'm taping everything). By the time the movie was over, it was almost 11. So, that whole blogging at night thing didn't go well. Maybe tonight. Of course, tonight, I'm going to a Poetry Center event (Diane di Prima is reading at 6:30 at the SAIC Ballroom, 112. S. Michigan Ave., $10, free for members, I expect to see you all there). I'm sure it'll be exciting, but who knows if I get to blog tonight when I get home. Maybe I should stop sleeping so I can get more done. Or maybe I should just stop trying to get so much done. Or maybe I should stop watching TV. Not sure what the answer is there. This blog, or last night's blog, wasn't going to be about blogging. But I'm not in the mood to write about what I was going to write about last night. I'll save that for another day. I don't know why blogging should be an emotional thing. I guess writing in general is fairly emotional. It's kinda gray outside, and I'm not in the best mood. I'm trying to figure out why I am so easily annoyed. Is it a character flaw? Do my meds need to be adjusted? Last night, Mr. H. came home a little tipsy, he was happy to see me, he was in a good mood because, he'd just been to see a band he liked, nothing wrong with that. But for some reason it bugged me. Not bugged me that he was happy, tipsy...I guess I was in the zone of watching my movie, being alone, and he interrupted that. Not his fault, so why did it bug me? It's not like I thought he wasn't going to come home (though I did think I was already going to be asleep when he got home). So no real reason for me to be annoyed, except I was (and then of course, kinda mean to Mr. H.) This morning, on the train ride in, there was this woman with really short hair, the kind that is straight and lays totally flat, was upset because they doors opened and her hair blew up. She turned around and shot the doors this nasty look, and held her hair down. It was funny because her hair could have blown around for 15 minutes, and it still would have gone back to exactly the same place. That annoyed me. It annoyed me that she would be annoyed with wind. But is this my problem (her hair I mean)? No. So why should it annoy me? It annoys me when Frenchy uses the kitchen as his own personal office. He likes to go in there and shut the door when he's on the phone. When ever he does it, I just want to barge in there to get a cup of coffee. (OK, I think most people would agree that's a pretty legitimate annoyance - but still, nothing to get too upset with). What's happened to me? I don't always remember being this easily annoyed. I used to be a pretty easy going person. Or maybe I wasn't. Maybe I've always been this high strung, and I just didn't know it. Maybe I need some sort of support group, like for anger management, but for annoyance management. Maybe I just need to do more yoga and meditation (of course, I'll have time for that since I'm no longer sleeping).

Monday, May 7, 2007

I moved recently...give me a break...new blog entry:

Moving is hard. Not that you don't know that already. It never goes the way you think it's going to go. The movers are late, the new tenant is early, they're still painting your apartment. But hey, it's all part of the experience right?

Mr. H. and I are still getting used to our new neighborhood, Logan Square. It's quite different from our old neighborhood, Lakeview/Wrigleyville. A lot of the reasons we wanted to move are, oddly enough, a lot of the reasons we miss it. We didn't like a lot of the people or the amount of people in the hood. It tended to attract a lot of recent college grads that could at times be loud and obnoxious. Of course, those college grads, with all their disposable income, needed places to eat and drink and shop, so we had the benefit of living very close to a lot of restaurants and bars and stores. Our new neighborhood caters to quite a different demographic. A lot of hipsters live very close to the square, but go a few blocks outside it, and it's pretty much only residential. This decreases the amount of noise and drunken rantings on the sidewalks at 2 a.m., but then again, it also means we have to travel a bit further if we want to go out. Parking is better, which I like a lot. We don't have to arrange our schedule around the Cubs home games. We managed to go to Target twice over the weekend and never had a problem getting a spot when we got home. The trips to Target (and Bed Bath and Beyond and the Container Store and World Market) were for all those things that you somehow need in new home that for some reason you didn't need in your old place ... a cart for the kitchen, stuff to hang your pictures, a drill, more storage items. Of course we're still looking for a few things. We got rid of our old coffee table cause Mr. H. didn't like it...so now we're looking for a new one. We now have a spare bedroom, which is basically our study and library. But it's a pretty big room and we need a nice sitting/reading chair in it. So if you have any of those things let us know. I'd like to get something with a little character, not just your basic throw-away furniture from Target/IKEA. All-in-all the it's going OK. We started to hang pictures and make the apartment look like our own (Mr. H. loves the new drill). I predict in the next week or so it'll be pretty much done. Feel free to drop by sometime soon.

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