Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Walks

A few nights ago, I went for a walk in the cold. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m so easily amused, but it’s always kind of thrilling to me to put on my heavy boots (which make me invincible, you know), and tromp through the slush and snow. I like the way it feels bundled up inside my hood, my own body heat held closely between the layers. I like how ridiculous it feels to be all wrapped up in some amalgamation of winter gear. I watch other people rushing around, shoulders hunched up against the cold, pink faces, clouds of breath in the air. It always makes me laugh, although I’m not quite sure what it is that I find so ridiculous about the whole thing.

But in the moments where the people are gone, it’s really rather peaceful, like pockets of solitude. In the city, people are always out and about, even in the wee hours of the morning, so you’re never really alone unless you’re at home (and even then, you hear your neighbors in the apartments adjacent or above). But in the wintertime, the pedestrians thin out in the evenings, so you can go whole stretches without seeing a single person headed your way. No, it’s not silent, because there’s still traffic—so, you know, it’s not perfect stillness. It’s certainly not akin to a walk in the woods. But I can liken it to how I feel when I walk down by the lake, away from the beaches, during the summer. You can have whole moments to yourself, even though the city is moving at a rapid pace to your west. It’s refreshing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Finally finding a few spare moments to write, between gazes out the airplane window, at a rippling blanket of clouds (and the mountainous Northwest, pictured below). How much I can write boils down to a race between my fingers on the keyboard, and my puny laptop battery, which is losing power by the second.

Christmastime in Chicago has been a whirlwind for me. I’ve been in and out of the city a little bit this month, so I missed a few things like the first major snowfall. I’m not really disappointed about it, though. I’ve seen snow every single winter of my life, and will no doubt catch Chicago’s first winter snowfall next year. I was in Las Vegas that weekend, and when we descended back into O’Hare after dusk the following Monday, the snow-and-Christmas-light dressings over the landscape provided a friendly welcome home.

This holiday season has been marked by holiday performances, although I haven’t gone completely overboard with the arts reviews. In fact, I have found, this year, that the urge to snuggle up inside for a good movie or some cooking (with a certain someone) has been much stronger than my desire to be out and about in the cold city. But so far, I’ve seen two versions of the Nutcracker (review of the Joffrey’s in next week’s SNIPPETS, which you can sign up for here), the American Blues Theatre’s It’s a Wonderful Life (review posted here), and this weekend will find me at A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theater (this one is for pleasure only—no review). The one other Chicago holiday attraction I’m dying to catch before Christmas is the Krist Kindle Mart. I finished all of my holiday shopping weeks ago, but I love to go look at the wares and eat German pastries.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Catching Up with an Old Favorite

My perspective on Chicago is changing. I sometimes find it difficult to defamiliarize the city anymore, because I am so close to it. This is partly why my blog posts have become fewer. I wouldn’t say that I have lost my exuberance for the city. I still feel the rush every time I walk out of work in the evening and the city pops against the dark sky. And when I look out the windows at the office and watch the traffic inching along sixty stories below. And when I have opportunities to interview great artists in the city, and even some just traveling through. The excitement of Chicago is still here. But the novelty is transforming into something resembling my feelings toward a favorite old novel. This is okay with me because I love old favorites, and new details emerge as my own perspective changes. I’m hoping that I will still be able to entertain you with my tales about Chicago. And thank you to my faithful readers. It means a lot to me that you’re still here, reading my stories.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twosided + Two-ish Hours = Two Happy Ladies

In early November, I stumbled upon an adorable little shop in Lakeview called Twosided. I noticed it for the first time when Matt and I were riding down Wellington late in the evening. The shop windows were aglow with the twinkling of eight or nine Christmas trees all decked out, casting light out onto the street. I gasped when I saw it, and Matt just chuckled at me (he knows I’m Christmas-obsessed).

So, when my mom made her annual Christmas-shopping-in-Chicago visit the following weekend, we decided to spend one full day moseying about the shops in Lakeview. Our first stop after introducing mom to Matt's and my favorite brunch spot (sorry, can't reveal it--we don’t want it to start getting crowded!) was Twosided. I couldn’t believe I’d never been to this place before, to be perfectly honest. In addition to the Christmas trees loaded with lights and ornaments, this little store is chock full of the best—and I do mean best—selection of greeting cards I’ve ever stumbled across. They’re very kitschy—not your banal Hallmark cards—and you could spend hours just reading through them and picking out the ones you want.

Mom and I perused this shop for about an hour and a half. I collected a small pile of birthday and holiday cards, and a funny little onesie for the new little nephew or niece that will be joining our family next year, and a gift for one of my best friends. Mom and I both left with a little reluctance and bags filled with evidence that we’d had ourselves a very good time.