Friday, January 31, 2014

Bad Band, Good Band

I treated myself to dinner before heading to the show, waiting at the venue for what seemed like an interminable amount of time until they started letting people in. I had decided, since I had been so disappointed by my last experience, that I wanted to go upstairs and watch the show from a nice seat overlooking the stage. It had been a longish day at work and I justified the sitting in that, at least if I was disappointed again, it would not be so bad, since I was mostly out of the way and I would not be tired and sore afterward. The bar was having a vodka special with bitters, and I realized I could, in fact, drink something containing bitters, so I settled in with vodka sodas with a small amount of bitters and wondered when I would make friends.

My goalmy lifelong goal, it seemed, or at least, my constant hope—was to try to make friends. So far the score was fair to middling, in that I have managed to meet people and have made a few connections, but have not yet gotten to the point of real friendship. I suppose this was also due to the fact that I was still upset at having lost another deep friend, which I realized was my fault in the end. I should not aspire to have soulful connections with anyone but the Boy. And yet, sometimes ten years later, sometimes five, as I would watch a connection drift closed, punishing myself for feeling, I would mourn the loss. To fill it I tried to make more friends, even though it seemed like this was merely just an invitation for continued heartache. But then, what is life if the heart doesn’t ache? I sat in my chair waiting for the show to start while my brain flitted into this place, chastising me for missing friends, forcing me to consider the now, and became saddened that I am here, tonight, alone.

After a drink, as I waited for the first band, some girls pulled up beside me and asked if the chairs were taken. I said no and did my best to engage them. It was an utter bomb. They liked music, but not the way I liked music. They enjoyed talking, but I tired of the banality of the conversation quickly. However, for the next few hours we were “friends” in that I trusted them not to steal my bag while I went to the bathroom between sets and there would not be a shiving between now and the end of the show.

“Do you know the first act?” the girl sitting closer to me asked.

“They were unmemorable, but I did check them out.” I had checked out all the bands this evening, and it was true: the first act was rather unmemorable. The band was trying too hard to find a place to fit between genres with drawn-out droning electronics and synths and the more upbeat genre rock of post-indie garage. I can imagine a band in which this would work but this was not that band. Roommate was a band that managed to pull it off, and did it far better. Balliaf nailed the rock with just a touch of electric, also pulling off the desired effect. This band, sadly, did not.

The second band I had checked out was the Kopecky Family Band with an interesting little album called Kids Raising Kids. Honestly, Kopecky got me the ticket. Listening to Kopecky I immediately wanted to see them in concert. They were a fun little ensemble band with a very well-matched male and female duetish vocal lead, music that was influenced by southern bluegrass without becoming country, and had a nice rock/ska sensibility. Their songs were fun and upbeat, in the kinds of keys that generally tended to strike a chord in the musical side of my brain and I fell in love with them on first listen and bought both their albums. I was very excited to see them, and in some ways, even more so than the RAA (who I continued to fret would disappoint me again).

As predicted, the first band, after a song, got boring. The same kind of boring that Lord Huron was when I went to see Alt-J. After one song you were done and ready to move on, and sadly they played a one-hour set. I drank.

I went to the loo and my seatmates were happy to watch my bag. They spent most of the first set talking about work and even though the band was uninspiring I did my best to listen to the music and not their conversation. Kopecky took the stage quickly, setting up their own instruments and getting ready to perform. I was rather excited and was not disappointed. As with the albums, the band brought such vibrancy to their performance. The crowd banter was perfectly jolly, the onstage interactions were cute and playful, and the music pushed us up and down, lifting with one hand, crashing us down into ourselves with the other, and then evening it out and settling our souls up and down, not like a roller coaster, but like life, blending and soothing out the hurts and pains and realities with the realization that we were not alone in feeling that up and down, turmoil: it was everyone, everywhere. We were all expansive and here we were experiencing the human condition and it was okay. They were perfect. The set could have been three hours and I would not have been unhappy; however, they were sadly on for only an hour before clearing away for the main event.

Another trip to the loo. I ran, my seatmate ran, and then we waited while the band set up. I noticed immediately that the RAA was on stage setting up their gear as well. My dread was still in place, but I was starting to feel some small chips in that dread. Hopefulness, perhaps.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

After So Much Time In, Out! OUT!

As the middle of the month approached, after having endured the frost and snow and freaking rain, I really needed to do something. The thing that kept coming to mind was that I needed a show. The winter concert scene in Chicago had dragged a bit, and while I had seen at least two great acts (Iron and Wine and Over the Rhine), it was still rather on the sparse side for some of the shows I wanted to see.

However, I kept getting alerts on my phone that the RAA was coming to town. RAA: Rural Alberta Advantage.

There was a lot of thinking about it. I like, no, really, I love the RAA. I really do; however, I had seen them roughly two years ago in Chicago at almost exactly the same time of year, and I had been disappointed as hell, no two ways about it. I recall writing, “It felt like they were working.” This was my opinion of that concert and it was a problem for me. Music should be passion not a chore; it should inspire wild abandon. To tour and sing for a living was an amazing privilege, especially for a band like the RAA, which inspired such wild abandon in me. Shows should display a rush of crazy outward passion, letting go, fueling and refueling a wild desire in the audience. I know touring is a job, and not a pleasant one. I know performing is hard work, and I sympathize, having done a fair amount of performing for a living, albeit in a different way. However, as someone who put the show on the road, I know that despite the annoyingness of travel, you had to bring passion to it. You had to love it. You hat to, or everyone would know you don’t. At least, this was how I felt about it.

With that, imagine how disappointing it was to watch someone preform and make it feel like I was getting paid to watch them work, but not work they enjoyed, work that was unpleasant and hard. It was difficult for me. I left the show sadly disappointed, even though I knew the words to every single song.

Unfortunately, given the large lack of shows coming up, the RAA was the only thing on the horizon that looked interesting, I figured, hey why not? and got myself a ticket. Being enterprising, I decided to try getting a room on Airbnb, and found myself a nice little place that would be a roughly five-dollar ride cab to and from the venue. Considering the weather this was a good idea. When Friday rolled around I was feeling rather pleased with myself for all the arrangements I had made.

The, room, it turned out, was actually a lovely little studio apartment in Lincoln Park. In fact, I was amused as I was pretty sure my first apartment, and every apartment I lived in while in Korea, was smaller than this little place. The bed was comfortable, the room warm, and considering that it was once again snowing and violently cold I was pleased with myself. Also, for having the place to myself it had cost significantly less than a hotel room, meaning that this was definitely something I was going to do again. I dropped the rest of the things I didn’t need in the room, went to the street, grabbed a cab, and headed over to admittedly one of my favorite venues: Lincoln Hall.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Hubbard Street Communicates

“So what did you think of Hubbard Street?” I asked the Bard. On my last outing to the street I had invited the Bard to join me, which had required some changing about of my season tickets. Hubbard’s ticket people worked very patiently with me and were able to accommodate my request completely to allow us girls to sit in a little triumvirate in a still-good location on the stage, although not as nice as “my” seats. Still good though.

“Oh, I enjoyed it.”

“Do you think the Electrician will want to come?”

“Oh yes. See, this is the thing. I tried to explain it to him, but this is the thing. People think the ballet is stuffy, or that you can’t enjoy it because you may not understand it, but that’s just the thing; it’s impossible not to understand it. It’s so primal. Pure expression, it's universally accessiblenot stuffy at all.”

“Almost archtypical, really,” I chimed in.

“But not just that, it’s the way they tell the stories with their bodies. Their bodies speak all the words you need; the story is in the flow of their flesh on stage; you don’t need an interpreterit’s impossible not to understand. Understanding is lost when you try to assume you won’t get it, or can’t get it because it’s difficult. It’s not difficult. It’s right there. That’s why I got so upset with the storytelling thing.”

“Oh, that.”

I admit, it was strange to be in the middle of the dance and have one of the dancers suspended from the ceiling telling a love story that was not a story, not purposeful, conveyed no meaning, and did not enhance the show in any way. It was out of place, strange, and almost diametrically opposed to the purpose of the dance, which was to convey thought without words; communicate to a slice of our humanity that was rarely spoken to, the id, living behind the veil, reading the words of expression, the sound and flight of the story that was told through gesture, breath, inhalation, exhalation, sweat on skin, the press of blood on the surface, and the flutter of the heart and eye.

“That’s why it made me so angry. It was unnecessary. The story is there, it’s not complicated. It's there to see it. You don’t have to say it, you just need to see it, to let it be, to let it breathe, to let it be what it is supposed to be without forcing it. That’s the point. Now I understand why people go to the ballet.”

“It is different, though,” I responded, “from just the ballet. I mean this is a somewhat less-stuffy dance. The ballet can lend an air of pretension to the story that's being told, where this is more animistic, something different. Something real.”

“Yes, and no. It’s just, I mean, like Black Swan manages to show how it is visceral. How it communicates.”

“True.”

“No, I get it now. I think the Electrician will enjoy it to.”

“Good.”

The next show would include Le Petite Morte. I was quite excited.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Purple Pig

“Want to go to dinner?”

“Boy's out of town. Sure, why not?” the Bard agreed. After the whole polar vortex thing I wanted to go out just to get out, even though I knew the chances were good that I would spend the remainder of the weekend at the house.

“Where?”

“No idea yet, but I’ll work it out between now and then.” Sometimes, even I liked not having a clear plan.

In the end I decided on the Purple Pig, because I kept hearing about it and it seemed like it would be fun. With the right timing I could eat, take a few pictures of the frozen city and get my train home.

“The Purple Pig, do they have ANYTHING you can eat?”

“Yeah, they have a Mediterranean menu. I mean, yeah, they have a lot of pork, but they have cheese and wine, and I saw some appetizers I can eat. It will be cool.”

That decided, we went to the Purple Pig. The food, well, the food spoke for itself. We sat at a communal table, ordered cheeses and meats and olives and Brussels sprouts that tasted like popcorn with a very pleasant bottle of wine. It was all-around lovely. Aside from the fact that Chicago, being fickle, as always, in its weather choices, was being coated in rain, a rain that did not ease up at all as we ate, and eventually forced me to buy an umbrella or suffer the consequences of getting absolutely soaked in the mid-winter. The rain, of course, totally put a kibosh on my desire to take pretty pictures of the city, and in the end, after snapping only one nice shot of the river, I was forced to head to my train while the Bard took the rather precarious drive home.

The food made it worth it.


The Eat-a-ning.


A bone-marrow smear. Not ours, our neighbors'. 


Mussels. 


Wine.
Being devilish. 


Words to live by. 


Ice in Chicago. 


Almost home. Full of food.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Walking in the Polar Vortex

Tuesday night was still bitter cold; the polar vortex now in full force, I traveled home and did not see my ride. I waited inside the small house next to the train station for a good ten minutes before finally realizing I was going to have to walk.

I really did not want to walk.

With the wind, the outside temperature was -25. I had dressed in layers but it was still really cold. I waited a few minutes more but the overhead light heater in the small hut was doing nothing with the wind blowing straight through. I bundled up until I was little more than an eye slit poking out through coat and hood and ventured out.

It was a three-block walk to the house. Not so bad. On a good day I could do it in five minutes and I actually didn't mind the walk. However in the blistering cold, with black ice everywhere, I minded a lot. My only goal was to not fall down.

There was so much snow at first I thought I might be able to get away at a good clip, but crossing over the tracks to get to the side I needed to be on, I almost slipped straight out on black ice. I caught myself and then slowed and steadied my walk. This was not going to be fun.

The sidewalks were knee high with snow, so I hugged the wrong side of the road, walking slowly on the little bit of room at the edge, when possible looking for snow that would crunch under my feet so I would be sure not to be on ice. I did not slip again, but it was slow, slow, going. My mind was racing with concern for the Boy. Where was the Boy? His phone had gotten wet a few nights ago, so I couldn’t call him to find out. Only thing for it was to get home.

Altogether it took me a half hour to get home. It wasn’t so bad in the areas where the lights were working on the street, but in the dark spots I was terrified I was going to get hit by a car, being nothing but a shambling black-clad ghost in a dark night with snow still falling. As I got close to the house, where I could see it in the distance, I saw a car pull in and realized it was the Boy. The wave of relief that washed over me almost undid the rest of the walk, but I managed. After a minute of scanning he saw me and came out to meet me.

“I am soooooo sorry. The car got stuck in the snow and I could not get it out.”

“It’s okay. It’s really okay. I’m just glad you are okay.”

“Do you still want to go out for dinner?”

“No. I want to drink a bottle of wine and try to warm up.”

The polar vortex was cruel. I did make it home, I managed not to fall down, and in the end, everything actually was okay.

Fortunately it started to warm up on Wednesday and by Friday I wanted to stay in the city a little late and have dinner and take some pictures to celebrate having not fallen down, died, gotten frostbite or been eaten by an ice creature. All in all it could have been much worse.




Sunday, January 26, 2014

Trapped in Winter

Before the insanity hit, the Boy and I put in provisions. This turned out to be a good idea, as we didn’t leave the house for almost seventy-two hours, stuck (as we were) in the snow. The Artist got in touch with me to tell me her flight had been cancelled. Her flight and every other flight out of O'hare: 370 some-odd flights had been grounded because of the snow and cold. They couldn’t get the planes de-iced fast enough to move them. She was stuck in Florida for an extended stay, I was stuck at my house for an extended stay. This was all rather unpleasant and dramatic weather and I was already feeling done with it, and we hadn’t even had the cold snap happen yet. On Sunday night I watched as the snow continued to fall and wondered if we would ever be able to get the car out.

Monday was freezing cold. I worked from home and then did some sewing. There was nothing else to do. Tuesday I almost missed the train as the Boy tried desperately to get the car up the little slope that is our driveway. I called the Bard to let her know.

“If we can get out of the drive in the next three minutes, I will make the train.”

We managed.

Chicago was icy frosty cold. The waters of the lake rolled like someone had kicked up a bucket of greasy oil. The glass of window fronts were coated in flashes of ice that streaked across and feathered everywhere, making the city look like an igloo. It was blistering cold to walk for even the small half block of exposure that I had, but aside from the weather there was limited excitement. The weather was all anyone talked about.

“I spent the day picking oranges out of the tree in the back,” the Artist told me over the phone.

“How long are you going to be stuck?”

“It seems like forever. I may not be able to get out before Sunday.” In the end she had to change her flight to fly out through New York to get home. All other options were quickly vanishing and with all flights in and out of O’hare cancelled for almost three days, flying was seriously unpredictable at the moment. I was lucky I had managed to get back to the city when I did.

“The polar vortex sucks.”

“Yes, yes it does.” We commiserated together with everyone else in the country, as Chicago was not alone, but easily suffering with the entire continental U.S. The start of the year was already providing some amusement.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chiberia

The Bard called about a minute after I sat down.

“I’m on the train,” I said.

“Good god, why?”

“To go to work?”

“No, no, no. Work from home today. There is no reason to try to get in to the city; it’s going to be insane.”

“Okay.”

I got off the train and called the Boy to come get me.

And while I did do work, the rest of the day also consisted of hourly trips to the window to exclaim loudly about the wrath of nature. The snow was coming down and seemed to be very disinterested in stopping. It was January 2nd and it was a little nutty out there. Already we had accumulated about six inches, with snow piled in the yard higher than a small Shih Tzu, who was boycotting leaving the house ever againor until summer, whichever came first.

On Friday, I did manage to make it into the office, but it was cold. It was about to get colder.

“So this polar vortex thing; you know the weather on Monday is going to be 30 below.”

“I keep hearing that,” I said, as the Bard and I sat and discussed the ridiculousness that was yesterday's snow.

“I would say don’t come in, but we haven’t gotten the green light from the boss yet.”

“Well, keep me posted.” The boss was in Florida. I sympathized. Apparently by the end of the day enough people in the office had written in to express their disdain for -30 degrees Fahrenheit in enough colorful terms that the boss had relented and reported that anyone who wanted to could work from home on Monday.

The weather plan was that we would get absolutely walloped with snow on Sunday, which would then be followed by the kind of flash-freeze that could stick a mastodon in place for posterity. It would be turn-off-your-fridge-and-just-move-the-food-outside cold. The wind would be howling, polar bears would be pacing about outside the window, and with the size and consistency of the drifts, I expected glaciers to move in and restructure the landscape any minute. Welcome to real winter, or, as the Chicagoans had renamed it: Chiberia.


Friday, January 24, 2014

From the Tropics to Winter

I flew back on the first, and had the Boy meet me at the airport. There was some small discussion while I waited for my second part of the flight in Atlanta.

Boy: I might be a little late.

Me: Why?

Boy: We have had some weather. It’s snowing a bit. Don’t be too surprised if your plane gets delayed.

Me: Okay; see you there.

I signed off of chat, had a martini, and then realized that I had accidentally screwed up my boarding time, so I had the fun of dashing down the airport. At least I got a workout in.

The flight was entirely uneventful (aside from the girl checking me in asking if I had a coat; I was from Chicago after all), as was the landing, but, as had been indicated by the Boy, it was snowing pretty hard. It was snowing hard enough that by the time the plane had finally managed to get to the gate the wings were already sporting an inch of snow. I was impressed.

The good news was the flight had not been canceled, as I was hearing during my walk through the airport that many flights were delayed, if not outright canceled due to the weather. This seemed like a bad time to be at O'hare. The Boy found me easily enough at the luggage retrieval. I grabbed my small suitcase, unpacked my coat, and returned to the land of “need boats” as opposed to the land of walking around barefoot (or in sandals), and sipping wine on the porch in the middle of December. Reality was cruel.

It was quite cold, but deal-able. We piled into the car and started the drive home.

“Sweet merciful goddess, you weren’t kidding.” The snow was coming down fast and thick. So fast, so thick. It was the light powdery snow that just covered everything it touches.

“This really seems not good.”

“It’s worse than it was when I was driving up here.”

We went slowly, with the goal of just getting home, which seemed liked a fairly good goal. There were not enough plows to keep up with the snow coming down, which required patience and not driving like a maniac.

“You want to get something to eat?”

“Not really in this weather. I’m good if we just vroom vroom.”

It was on the way home that I really started paying attention to the weather. Despite the weather, I got up on the second, worked out, and got ready for work. I was on the train, which was covered in snow, as it was really coming down now and apparently was going to continue coming down for the rest of the day. This was roughly around when I learned the phrases polar vortex, crushing weather, super cold, etc. All I could think of was that at least the trains were running on time.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Year's Day

Our New Year's Day was quiet. We took pictures around the fire and watched the rain fall outdoors.

"I never did get to go to the beach."

"Are you upset?"

"Not at all. This was perfect."

"Yes."

We planned to do it again in April.

Sunrise on New Year's Eve.


Selfies.


Ladies.


Lunch.

Lavender Confit.

Relaxing.

Outside in December.

Night 


Drama 


Midnight.

Aftermath.


Morning.


Amused.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Penultimate Hours before the New Year

After paying, we decided to walk back anyway, which took us through the nature center, where we bought gifts for each other (a living pearl/make-your-own-necklace set for her, a butterfly garden for me) and discovered that the shuttle had taken some sort of wormhole route, as the walk was really not nearly as long as we had anticipated.

“This place is perfect,” she exclaimed.

“How so?”

“Everything is within walking distance. All behind security. You are totally isolated, and I haven’t seen a single security camera. Which makes sense; if you have celebrities staying here you don’t want any pictures. It’s all so self-contained. I LOVE this.”

“I've felt like I should steal something since I got here.”

“We totally should.”

I thought, in actuality that we had absconded with some small jars of jam that had been placed outside the door on some neglected breakfast tray, but we started thinking bigger, bolder, better.

“What now?”

“I think now we should go back to our room and experiment with some lavender confit.”

(I can happily confirm that the lavender confit, in fact, does taste amazing on everything. We even tried it with caviar.)

Later, we lay abed drinking wine, talking, and listening to music at each other, naked and enjoying the sunset. It was wild abandonment and girly indulgence and perfect that way. We laughed and giggled and danced about, taking pictures of each of other, of our foods, of any variety of things to document our experience.

“We should probably get ready to go for dinner.”

It was approaching nine, so we squeezed back into our undergarments, perfumes, and fineries. A short dress what little coat I had for me, a leopard print dress for her, and off we went again down the long winding road to the oceanside café.

We walked past the burning fire pits and the celebratory activities for New Year’s already underway. We ended up by a fire, chatting to an older stewardess who took our pictures and commiserated with us about life on the road before entering the restaurant.

Being who we are, we had nothing to do with the set-course menu.

We filled ourselves rather indulgently on sea bass, crab cakes, and a fresh bottle of wine, having managed to work our way through almost all the wine in our room during our repast.

Dinner may have been an uneventful eating orgy had it not been for the table next to us, where (as we could not helping listening, since everyone was speaking English) we overheard a couple fat-shaming their children.

“What do you think he does?” the Artist asked me of the douche father, who was both chastising his sons for being fat and explaining that they had to eat desert, because you don’t often come to places like this.

“Some form of advanced doucheholery, I suspect,” was my response.

The Artist turned around to the father. “Excuse me, what do you do?”

“I’m a stokebroker.”

“Nailed it!”

Both of us girls went off, in rare form. We tore into the stockbroker on a level he couldn't comprehend, delivering triple entendre’s that were as insulting as humanly possible while seeming overly polite. Or rather, I watched the Artist do it, because that was an advanced level of Southern I had not mastered. The backhanded evil southern where one can outright insult someone as long as you added “Bless her heart,” to the end. “I can’t believe you thought it was okay to wear that dress, bless your heart.” Etc. I couldn't do southern insults at the master level, so I let her work.

Eventually we chased off the stockbroker and his wife, leaving us alone.

The staff brought us noisemakers at eleven o'clock, but they made no noise.

“No matter how I blow it, it’s silent.”

“That was probably smart. Can you imagine us with noisemakers right now?”

We giggled. Then it was decided that we would, in fact, steal something.

Off the stockbroker’s table.

We laughed and giggled back to our room, amused with ourselves, disrobing and climbing into bed just before midnight, where we sat and sipped champagne until the hours were up. Kissing, tired, and exhausted, we passed out cold until well after sunrise in the New Year.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lavender Confit

Later we lay lavishly across the bed, looking down at the waves splashing against the shore.

“We should go walk along the beach at some point,” she remarked.

“Maybe. Would you mind going shopping? We could check out the little shops down the hill.”

“I don’t want to buy things my mother might like.” Her mother had been impressed by the small arrangement of shops in the plantation.

“Don't worry, we don’t have to buy anything. We can just entertain ourselves between now and dinner.”

We smiled at each other, knowing full well that we could find many ways to entertain ourselves between now and dinner, in truth.

“Let’s go have a look.”

Somehow we found our clothes, while having the types of girly chats you would expect. “I forgot my lotion…try this…have you…did you...have you heard…have you talked to…what about…” It was the peaceful inane girl-chatter of two deep friends, two women in love, a discussion of life, love and gossip. We talked about our friends near and far, the ones we'd lost, the ones we still held dear. We talked about our men. We discussed America and life and the future, all the while finding clothes, adjusting breasts and bodies, placing our flesh into the entrapment of female body armor, and then we pleasantly, arm in arm, wended down to the shuttle area to go to the shops.

The shuttle was at the end of a rather long walk, yet we discussed just walking back as a way to get some movement if it wasn’t too far, though by the way the shuttle twisted and turned it seemed like it might be a rather long walk. We chose to wait until we got to the shops and make our decision then.

We wandered in and out of the line of little shops. Inside the shops, we poked about at clothes and looked at all the tourist things. “I want to get something for my boy," I said. "He likes shirts.” However, all the interesting and clever shirts I found were mostly designed so that the print was on the back.

“You know, the print needs to be on the front; he is not a back-print kind of guy.”

“You really do have to be a back-print person.”

“There are people who can wear back prints and people who can't. He is not a back-print kind of guy. Who is, though? I’ve never understood back prints.”

“It’s a thing around here.”

Indeed it was, for every single shirt we looked at had a back print, which I found rather annoying. We amused ourselves by looking at things, going into the clothing shops and browsing the sales racks, and trying on clothes together. I finally decided on a single piece. Then we found ourselves in the local trade store, for lack of a better word: a place for travelers to get groceries, local products, knick-knacks and kitsch.

“We are getting some of that cheese.” The cheese fridge looked awesome and I wanted some.

As we kept going around and around the shop we started talking about our afternoon. While our breakfast was substantial, we were both hungry for something like a lunch, and it was close to two. We finally decided to buy cheese, crackers, caviar, and a cheese knife.

“I want to get you something,” the Artist said.

“But all these things are too big; I didn’t bring much in my suitcase.”

“I still want to get you something.”

After some puttering about we decided on the cheese knife, which she picked out for me. It was a cute little seahorse with a starfish dangling off of it. From there we found ourselves in line for the goat cheese we wanted, but after about three minutes of being annoyed and frustrated with the wait staff, who curtly said to me, “As you can see we are very busy, and there is a line over there,” just after I had watched another person get served from the same location, we decided to adjourn to the porch and have a seat. From where we ordered a few nibbles: cheese for me and a beet salad for her, along with wine (of course) and the cheese I had wanted out of the fridge, which our lovely waitress put behind the counter for us.

“What is on this cheese plate you're getting?” She asked me again.

“A couple of different cheeses, some grapes, and something called lavender confit.”

“Okay, I’m very interested in the lavender confit.”

“I have no idea; we shall have to try it and see.”

We sat and took pictures of each other, and our foods, and finallyafter much picture takingactually managed to eat.

“Okay, that” I pointed at the lavender confit. “That is fucking amazing.”

“I knew it would be good.” She dug in and had some on toast.

“Oh my god.”

“I know, right?”

The lavender confit tasted as I imagined the ambrosia of the gods must taste. It had earthy notes of honey that somehow managed to ground it in reality, but then it floated up, sitting on your tongue, bringing together tart and sweet and then transcending upward, with the high floral note of lavender lingering on your tongue to finish. It felt like flowers and honey and sunshine blended together and as we tried to hold onto the experience, savoring this little pot of confit on all the things on our plates, it was finally declared that it would be good on anything.

“I do believe that this would be good on anything,” declared the Artist.

“I agree.”

“I want to smear you in this and eat it off your naked body.”

“We should see if they sell some.”

We asked the waitress, and were disappointed to learn that, while very popular, the shop was not making the confit for sale, or at least, had not begun to jar it, although there had been some discussion of doing so in the future. There was some small pouting by the Artist, and while she was subtle, it was easy for me to see she was a bit disappointed. The waitress apologized again and then popped off, and when she returned she smiled as she triumphantly placed a little plastic to go cup of lavender confit in-front of me.

“I asked if they could just give us a little extra to go; there honey, now you enjoy that.”

The Artist smiled wickedly at me.

“I’m sure we will.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

Girls, Wine, and an Entire Plantation

The entire plantation was rather well designed and quite pretty. The room had its own private patio, which delighted both myself and the Artist. The weather was cool but not cold: overcast and light, but without sun.

“I got us four bottles and a bottle of champagne.”

“That might do it.”

“Do you think it's enough?”

“Knowing us? We're probably going to have to buy another bottle.”

We smiled at each other some more. There was that moment again. That pause. That first time being together after being away from each other for so long. But we were just sort of there. Both of us wanted to do something, but neither of us knew exactly what to do.

I closed the space and kissed her, long and lingering, taking her in with all my missing and longing.

We smiled and held hands.

“Now, let’s go get breakfast before we fail to leave this room!” I pulled her hand and we walked arm in arm down the winding halls. I hadn’t really eaten much the day before, and even though I’d had a late-night sandwich, I was rather used to having breakfast after working out, and the extra-large coffee was only going to go so far.

I had studied the maps while waiting for the Artist, and knew there was supposed to be a little restaurant downstairs. We found it just on the floor below our room. We were greeted by a rather friendly and very chatty hostess.

“Well, you ladies, you want the buffet? It’s lovely. Where do you want to sit? I know. You will sit at my favorite table. This one here; this is the best table. And what do you want to drink? Do you want some juice? Orange juice, I think, or maybe coffee? I’ll bring you—" She had this habit of talking and asking questions and answering all of them, which was pleasant in some ways as it prevented us from having to do any of the work, while at the same time being mildly annoying as we could not get a word in edgewise. Also, I found her onslaught of English friendliness to be very confusing, because sometimes friendliness in general made me clam up.

“Not orange juice.” the Artist managed to stop her, with all the pleasantness and southern charm she rightfully owned. “I’ll have a cranberry juice, and she wants a coffee, black, and yes, we will have the buffet.”

We smiled as she hurried off to serve us. We looked out the window for a bit before heading to the buffet table. The buffet really was lovely, complete with about five different cheeses and plenty of salmon and capers, which was really all I wanted to eat. There were also dozens of baked goods, fresh grits, lots of pork sausage and bacon, homemade jams, locally imported treats, and a few more mealy cereals and general products for children who could not go without having their overprocessed sugars.

“This is really lovely. And it’s perfect for you,” the Artist exclaimed.

“Yes.”

We sat looking out over the ocean as we ate.

“This really is the best table. There's no one behind us and nothing in the way of the view.”

“I think this whole thing is rather lovely; this was a good idea,” I replied.

“I still can’t believe you did this.”

“I had nothing better to do.”

“Is this a sex thing?”

We giggled and smiled and filled up on good food, then took a short walk around to inquire about the possibility of the sauna, which we had planned less well. Being that it was a holiday, all the massaging and pampering was booked up, so we were rather out of luck on that front. We walked about the courtyard, looking at the outdoor fires and pools, and I lamented that I had not brought a swimsuit after all.

“But it's too cold to swim,” I remarked.

“Honey, all these pools are heated.”

We noted that there was a nice oceanside restaurant, and they were having a three-course special dinner for New Year’s, so we stopped in and asked about getting a reservation. Our options were for an early dinner, or a later dinner around 9:30.

“It is New Year’s Eve and I have no intention of going to bed early.”

“Let’s do it then,” she said and we agreed to take the 9:30 spot for dinner.

That done, we retired to our room for an entirely different kind of feast.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sunrise Reunions

I awoke to the sound of waves on the shore around 6:00. My first thought was that I should work out. Then I realized I had overslept and working out was not an option. The Artist was dropping off her husband around 5:30 or so in the morning and after that she would be headed toward me. I was terribly worried that I was already late.

So, coffee, into the shower, out of the shower, gulp coffee, into my favorite late summer/early fall dress, sandals, sweet merciful goddess, sandals, and out the door.

The plan was to meet in the lobby at some point after she had dropped of her husband, with her mother possibly joining us for breakfast. In the lobby was a Starbucks so I got an extra-large coffeehaving gotten slightly less sleep than I was used toand did a bit of work while I waited.

I noticed two things at once. The first was that I could not for some reason get a network signal for my phone in the lobby, the second was that I could at least get my computer online. For some reason my rather shiny and new travel computer had been very cantankerous about what it felt was an appropriately strong WiFi signal, often leaving me without a connection, which annoyed me.

As it was, the latter proved to be a good thing, as just when I was starting to worry around 6:45 my email pinged with a voice-mail message I could not check; however, I could get it online. My dear sweet woman was stuck beyond the gates, as apparently I had not put her on my security approved checklist.

Well, that would have to be fixed. I tried to call her, but realized I could not, so I ran over to the counter, asked that she be put on the list, and then asked to use the phone to call her.

“We got in…” she answered. I tried to explain what had happened, but she begged off, so I went back to my coffee and waited.

The sun was rising over the ocean when she walked into the lobby; she looked just a little frazzled, but was still beautiful and watching the sun rise as she walked toward me was certainly worth it. I smiled and stood up.

“You would not believe my mother, I was arguing with her which is why I hung up,” she said as she sat down.

“I understand. I thought she was going to join us.”

“No. Apparently I said something last night and all of the sudden driving over here she is all ‘Is this a sex thing?’ which is, of course, a question she does not want the answer to, and I’m trying to be like, ‘Sara is just a very cool person and I think you’d like her’ but she is having none of it.”

I just smiled.

“Indeed.”

“’Is this a sex thing?’” she repeated again, exasperated, frustrated.

“Well….” There were a lot of things I wanted to say but mostly all I managed to do was smile, because she was here and finally we were together again. It felt like lifetimes has passed, though really it had only been a few months. The space between us had been dragging and dragging on me, the open disconnect between this life and my last life, the life I still missed that I no longer had, the friends I still missed that no longer talk to me, the people I still thought about that no longer had time for me. From my last life to this, only a small few of my connections had remained intact. It was partially my problem for both trying to save the bridge from burning while I was losing my own mind, and while I was losing my mind I was watching the bridge burn.

The reality was I knew I wasn’t well when I was leaving Korea, and it had taken about six months of rather intense therapy to get me back to the middle. I felt better now, more capable of handling things and more aware. If I were in the same place I had been months ago, watching her walk in with the sun rising behind her would have had me on the floor in tears. That was not a problem I had, but I could still feel the longing of all I had left behind and wanted to connect to it again while trying to remember always the future, the future, the future. The past had a way of overwhelming my future sometimes, and if I was not careful I could lose myself in all of that.

On this morning, as we sat and chatted with waves hitting the shore out the window, making decisions about what we wanted to do, the past was where it belonged, and here we were just ourselves, with our stories to tell of the six months we had been apart, with our plans for how we would meet next, with our desires for each other and our amusement over being together in this place, this now.

We chatted for a few more minutes before deciding it was time to get food, after first dropping off some bags in our room so that they need not be dragged all over the hotel. I grabbed her bag for hernot wanting her to carry anything at alland we walked the long but pretty trek to where we were staying.




Thursday, January 16, 2014

Small Town Girl, Big Town Cabbie

The only thing now was to get a cab.

Having done a moderate amount of research about where I was staying, I knew the only way I was going to get out there was by cab. I was fine with that. I walked up to the cab line with one person in front of me and two cabbies waiting. The first, an older guy, saw me while he had already started to escort the first person into his cab and just shook his head.

A woman popped out from the operators shack.

“Where are you going, honey?”

“The Amelia Resort.”

She looked at me and gave me an estimate of the price.

“Yes, I know; that’s fine.”

The cabbie in front shot me a look and drove away, while the nice female cab driver grabbed my bags.

“Oh, thank the lord, praise Jesus, yes, thank you; you are the first ride I’ve had all day.”

She bundled me into the taxi with my rather small bag.

“This is your ride, honey, you get comfortable, where are you coming from, what do you do, praise Jesus you are my first ride today.”

She was enthusiastic, Jamaican, and had apparently been waiting at the airport since three p.m. for a ride. Me and the dude before me were the only fares that day and the guy ahead of me was only going downtown, which was apparently a rather disappointing fare. I, on the other hand, was making her day. She praised Jesus a few more times, and when I mentioned I was thirsty gave me a bottle of water. I encouraged her to tell her story.

Her name was Joan. She had grown up in Jamaica, in a very small town. So small that she could remember when she was young going down to the town square with a blanket, some snacks, and drinks to share around while she watched TV with the other children. TV was a big deal some fifty years prior, as I gathered she was somewhere between 51 and 60. Around the time she turned 19 she met the man that would eventually become her husband, a German engineer who was twice her age and was madly in love with her and her eccentricity.

“He taught me everything. Before him I didn’t know how to cook. I burned everything. He had to teach me how to cook with fire. I don’t think there was a day I didn’t serve that man a burned meal, but he loved me anyway.” TV came up again, as apparently in her first apartment they had a TV, the first she had ever seen in a house.

“And I asked him how those people get in there. And he told me it was the tubes. I was trying to be sneaky and I thought he wouldn’t notice, so when he wasn’t looking I went around to the back to see the people in the tubes and he just laughed at me.” At some point in the last year he had passed away after a long battle with cancer. While she was sad, she was also happy he was no longer in pain. Besides, it gave her the opportunity to drive and she loved meeting people.

She regaled me with information about the city of Jacksonville and the various history of the island I was going to. Before the war it had been a plantation. After the war, the island had been given over to the freed slaves, and belong from then on to the family that had once served on the plantation. Some time in the early 1900’s a Spanish businessman had offered the family multiple millions of dollars to buy both the island and plantation, a sum that would have seem unheard of in the day. The plantation had been slowly renovated and, when the family lived on the island, it had been renamed for the Spaniard’s first daughter, Amelia.

Since then, the entire plantation had been turned into a little private resort with private shops, a private ocean view, and luxury little spa, all perfect for a little getaway.

As we approached I took the place in. For some reason, when I thought plantation I thought small, but this place was massively huge and lit up shining on the front side, but dark on the ocean side. Joan dropped me off and gave me her card, imploring me to call her if I needed a ride back when I was done, and with that I entered the rather obscenely luxurious building. With a few questions, handing over of IDs and confirmation I was granted entrance.

“Have you eaten?” asked the clerk.

“Actually, not since two p.m.”

“Our room service is open all night and the food is good.”

So the night ended with a bottle of wine and some chicken while I let the Artist know I had arrived. We texted roughly until I went to sleep, with the sounds of the ocean waves licking against the shore that was so prettily placed just outside the bedroom window.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coming and Going and Coming Again

Florida.

I couldn't really recall if I had ever been to Florida, though I thought perhaps I had at graced it some point; however, not in a way that I could remember, so this would be for all intents and purposes my first trip. It would be a short trip, but one where the plan was to make the absolute most of it that we could make. I was good with that.

After working all morning on the day before New Year’s Eve, I realized at some point I would have to stop and pack. How to pack for Florida? I was under the impression it would be warm, but not cold, and eventually checked in with the Artist to get her opinion.

“Kind of like early fall: warm but with cool evenings.”

I packed things that I thought would basically meet that description, although I was going to have trouble in the jacket department. I had to take my winter coat (there was no leaving Chicago without it) but that meant not having room for a lighter jacket, as I'd planned to stow my coat in my checked bag as soon as I got to the airport. In the end I went with a little sweater and hoped that would take care of any of my weather-related inconveniences

Last-minute packing is my favorite bad habit.

The Boy gave me a lift to the airport, for which I bought him lunch. When he dropped me off he reminded me to relax and have fun. I do love that man.

It felt weird being in O'Hare for a flight to somewhere other than Korea. It always feels weird to not go to Korea. I was also thinking of how it must have felt to have been trapped in the airport for almost two days and I could sympathize with my poor lady love going from gate to gate waiting to get on a plane. Fortunately, she did make it out of the airport, although much later than planned. Apparently the Honey Jack turned out to be the game changer.

The day after I left her with a lingering kiss and a promise to be thinking of her, she had woken late, had breakfast, and then went in for round two of “try to get a flight.” When she started the process again, apparently one of the women at the terminal had been there the previous day and rememberd her. Before even talking about the flight, the Artist had pulled out what remained of the Honey Jack and passed it over, like an offering to the old gods.

“I won’t be able to take it through the gates anyway.”

This may or may not have greased any wheels but what did result was getting checked into the flightapparently at the counter. Granted this had both a good and bad effect. The good was that they were almost sure to be on the 6:30 flight out of Chicago. The bad was that Chicago was experiencing a spat of inclement weather. The latter caused her gate to be changed at least three times and the flight was delayed by at least three hours. In her last call to me I had offered to come back to the airport yet again, but she begged me off, with the sincere hope that she was going to get out of what had become the Kafkaesque hell that is also known as O’Hare International Airport.

Not getting a call that evening I had worried, but the next day I got messages and learned all was well. Now, having followed her saga, it was my turn to journey down the long tunnels of O’Hare. Unlike the Artist, my trip was rather banal, comparatively. I had a glass of wine before the flight. Boarded and lifted out on time. Landed in Atlanta on time. Transferred and got to Florida about when expected.

All things told, a rather dull trip. The only real complaint I had was how long it took, as it seemed an eternity, while, really, it was only about five hours total flying. The waiting around just got to me.

Landing I was confronted with a long walk toward a cab stand and the balmy cool, somewhat humid air of Florida on a late winter night.

It felt luxurious. Palm trees ruffled in the late-night breeze, and I couldn't help but think of Jeju Island, regardless of the fact that Jeju was neither tropical nor relevant.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Christmas Dinner at the Airport

It was not the reunion either of us had hoped for. All strung out, tired, and greasy after a fifteen-hour flight from Korea she still looked fabulous, though, my lovely Artist, and as I walked toward her I could feel all my longing filling up, I had missed her so.

She was sitting and playing on her phone, trying to figure out a way to end the madness, not seeing me until I sat down right in front of her.

And for a moment we just looked at each other.

“I’m glad you’re here.”

“So here is the plan.” As much as I wanted to take her to my house, she was going to need to be back at the airport super early in the morning to catch the flight she needed to be on. The plan would be that they would get a room at the hotel as it was next to the airport, I would feed them dinner and get them tucked in, and in the morning she would keep me on call until she knew what was going on.

In the meantime, I had sent my boy off to find a Walgreens open on Christmas and buy a bottle of whiskey.

“Is there anything else you need?”

“I need panties, but I can just wash these out. I think I can make it.”

Her husband was sent to get a room and check things in while I listened to her retell the story of what was going on and we worked on backup plans. Then I sent a list of things to buy at the drug store to the Boy, and the Artist and I talked.

“They sell whiskey at Walgreens?”

“Welcome back to America.”

After being sure they had a room, the question of dinner came up.

“As it is Christmas, I have to be honest: most things are going to be closed. We are really best off just heading over to the hotel restaurant and bar and getting what we can get. We’ll be lucky to find something open that has tables on Christmas night.”

That settled, we walked over and found some seats while the Boy called.

“All they have is Honey Jack Daniels.”

“That sounds not right. Honey Jack Daniels?”

“Honey Jack? exclaimed my lady love. "I love Honey Jack! I only discovered it like two weeks ago; it’s amazing!”

“Seems like Honey Jack is a go.”

The Boy planned to meet us at the restaurant and we went ahead and got some basic food. The Artist and her husband both decided to go for lamb burgers, while I  (being still stuffed full of duck) had a lovely dinner of a dirty martiniextra dirtyand we settled in to chat and talk about all the gossip I had missed since I left Korea.

When the Boy arrived, he handed over the Honey Jack and was fed a pizza for his efforts. Overall it was a pleasant dinner, and the lamb burgers ended up being just the thing after a terribly long time spent on a plane.

“All right; let’s get you to a room.”

I grabbed hold of her bags, and between her husband and I we made quick work of getting upstairs and getting into a room.

“Now, this is the rest of the evening: you are going to undress, possibly have a soak in the tub or if not at least a shower, relax, drink some of that whiskey, and get some sleep. No more worrying as there is not much else you can do today.”

“Yes, that is the plan.”

I also knew she would work with the Koreans on trying to make sure she would definitely get out tomorrow, but I worried less about that. With a kiss that was all too short and a desire to stay, I left them both and wound my way downstairs, where I bought my boy a chocolate cake and found him waiting by the escalator.

“Thank you.”

“You know it was no problem.”

“I know, but I love you for it anyway.”

And with that, we hopped back into Delilah, who had now managed to have rather an adventure herself, and hit the road a final time for our own house, where, after that day I’d had, I promptly collapsed into bed and stayed there until I had to get up for work. I dreamed of the Artist and how I would see her again shortly

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lah, Lah, Lah, Delilah

To our surprise the towing service was fast (although they missed us on the first pass, but managed on the second), and eventually we all drove back north toward Scott's.

“You know, it occurs to me that I have a car that you can borrow,” said the Bard.

“Delilah?”

“Yeah; no one else is taking her, and I am the Chicago Zipcar service.”

“If you are sure

“It’s no problem.”

So with that settled, we borrowed Delilah, the tried-and-true stead of the Bard’s who had seen more road action that most city cars, but still ran like she was a younger girl. We transferred the most important goods with us into Delilah and decided to head off toward home. If nothing else there were two hungry dogs that would want a feeding and there was some discussion of possibly trying to make the parental units after all.

About twenty minutes from home, my phone buzzed.

I had mail.

I checked my mail.

It was not mail; it was a voice message.

My phone had not rung.

The first few words in the message were all I needed to see.

“How do you feel about going to the airport?” I asked the Boy.

My phone had not alerted me to a call at all, but my voicemail went straight to my email and the first words of my email had begun “It’s me, the Artist.” While still negotiating with the Boy about whether we should go to the airport I was frantically searching for my headphones and trying to figure out if I should try to call her back at the number she had called fromwhich was a crapshoot as best and no way to be sure that this would result in direct contact. As I gracelessly fumbled with my phone, and while the Boy exited the highway, the phone started to ring.

“Beautiful?”

“Sara, Ah, I don’t know what to do, here talk to my husband,” and the phone was tossed away.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

He laid the story out for me. While the trip to Chicago had been fine, they had become stuck in a neverending standby waiting game that had left them waiting for seats on a plane that were not materializing. Something had also gone wrong on the ticketing end, so that the airline that flew the most frequently out of Chicago would not even put them on a standby list so they could even escape the city. Since everything was closed at the airport they were really stuck and at this point there was nothing they could do about it.

“And the Artist can’t make any more decisions.”

“I’m on my way. Put your wife on the phone.”

“She says no.”

“Do it!”

He gets back on the phone and I heard my weeping, beautiful lover on the other end, “I really can’t do this,” she said in her cracking voice.

“Listen to me. You are going to find a chair. You are going to take a nap. I will be there in about an hour and I will help you figure this out. No arguments. Where are you?”

“You’re coming?”

“Yes, I’m on my way now.”

“But it’s Christmas.”

“Yes, and this is officially more interesting than anything else I was planning to do today.”

“But I saw on Facebook you were having car trouble.”

“Don’t worry about it. Put your husband back on and I will work out the details. In the meantime, try to get a nap.”

Her husband gave me an address for where to meet them. I gave him very specific instructions to put her in a chair and encourage her to nap while we worked on getting there. It would take a bit as Americaville is really, really huge, but I was coming and I would at least help make the basic decisions that needed to be made.

Everything was arranged and so Delilahwho hadn’t run around in a bitpurred down the road, all happy to be running around and not caring about the destination at all.

Friday, January 10, 2014

When In Doubt, Eat!

When your car gets stuck in the middle of downtown Chicago on Christmas day there really is only one thing to do: Say "fuck it" and go eat duck. I figured if we were going to have to deal with this mess we may as well do it on a full stomach, a stomach full of duck. 

“There is like no one here! We could have walked in!” I had made a reservation and was told (in no uncertain terms) that the restaurant would absolutely not be holding any tables longer than 15 minutes, making it seem like the restaurant would be crawling with people. While there were people, it was not nearly the brutal slam we thought it would be; however, between the four of us we managed to be there on time.

“So how is the car?” asked the Electrician. 

“Parked. Here, this is my Christmas present. I brought the book because I won’t be able to answer any of your questions about it.” This seemed the best thing to do in the situation. Any question the Electrician was going to ask about either the car or the camera would be beyond my technical skill level. The best I could do was maybe recite statistics on the number of car failures on Christmas day or perhaps explain that technically now all car problems were the past tense with future prefect tense on the horizon, as it related to the discussion of the what-comes-next bit. 

In the meantime we ate duck. Duck was good. Duck was delicious.

“So after lunch then what?” asked the Bard. 

“Well, I figure we get a taxi, call the road service and tow the car somewhere."

“Take it to Scott’s.”

Scott’s was a legendary car service in this circle, frequented by both the Bard and the Electrician. 

“We could get it towed home.”

“That is a long tow.”

“Yeah, but if we do that we can than walk to pick it up.”

“Just take it to Scott’s and I can walk the key over tomorrow.”

“The insurance on our car has a free rental.”

“On Christmas day?”

“Probably the only place you can get a rental today would be the airport,” said the Electrician.

“Well if I have to go out to the airport maybe I can see the Artist after all.”

“Wait, what?”

“She is flying through Chicago today on her way home.”

“Why didn’t you invite her to lunch?”

“Her layover isn’t that long. Anyway, it’s not a thing; she’s going to be flying out soon.”

More discussion ensued and eventually we finished our food, I finished my bottle of wine and we headed back to the car. On the way I called for the tow and called the parental units to explain the situation that was keeping us from heading their way. 

At the car the Electrician popped out to give the engine a more thorough looking at. At least, in his opinion there was more than an engine in there, and surely, given enough time he could probably deal with whatever was going on with the belts.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Did You Hear That?

Shortly before Christmas an invitation was issued by the Boy's parents, so the duck feast was scheduled for a brunch feast, allowing us time to drive from Chicago down to the parental units for later festivities. With all the plans laid out, it was really just a matter of waiting for the day to arrive.

The day itself was a quiet affair; we had gifted each other before the day in question. He gave me a beautiful camera (Narcissism Power!) and I gave him more alcohol-laced monk bread than you could shake a stick at. We were both equally pleased with our horde. Chicago had just had a smattering of snow on Christmas morning (nothing serious, barely an inch), but it was rather chilly. We bundled up, got into the vehicle and hit the road for the duck restaurant. A tactical decision was made to leave the monkey and the werewolf at home. Neither of us thought it would be a good day for the mammals to wait in the car.

The roads were nice and quiet on Christmas day, and just a little snow fell as we wended our way toward the city. About halfway to our destination the car started to make a funny noise.

“Do you hear that?” I asked. (I freak out about every creak the vehicle makes.)

“It’s nothing.”

“It doesn’t sound like nothing.”

A few seconds later the high-pitched squeal that had gotten my attention stopped. All right; it was probably just some snow or ice on something that had burned off. We continued on our way, enjoying the view of downtown growing as we raced toward duck. Just north of Randolph, the squealing started again. I looked at the Boy, worried, but he waved me off.

“Oh shit!” He pulled the car over. We had just passed the nearest exit and were sitting on the side of the road on LSD. The engine was still running. Good. What had caused the oh shit?

Waeyo?” Because we never stopped speaking Korean at each other, I asked what was wrong.

“This,” he pointed at the panel that said we were overheating and the battery light was on.

“We can try to push forward and just get there,” he suggested.

“Let’s pull over.”

“We can make it.”

“Take the next exit.”

With a bit more discussion he finally got us off the road, around Chicago, just off of LSD. Being off the road of course meant the requisite look under the hood. That is what people do. He stood in front of the car for a few minutes with the hood up, then let the hood go to before sitting down next to me.

“So?”

“There is an engine in there.” This was about as far as most of our car knowledge went.

“Maybe you should look under the car, see if anything is leaking?” I was clearly well trained in what to do when a car broke down.

He leaned out and looked under the car.

“Well…”

“What?”

“We aren’t leaking anything.”

“Okay?”

“We also appear to have lost all the belts.”

“Oh.”

I called up the Bard and the Electrician, at first thinking to get a ride from them, but then seeing taxis made a new plan.

“We are stuck, but we’ll take a cab and meet you there.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah; it's no problem.”

We jumped out of the car, into what now felt like a freezing city and hailed the first taxi we could get to head up town.

If nothing else, the day would be interesting.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

What Is a Traditional Christmas Like?

Christmas was coming up and I had no plans. This would not do. I was rather used to doing the catering for the Irish’s holiday parties and this gave me a sense of purpose around a holiday that I otherwise loathed. I had spoken with several people about this and knew that I needed to make some kind of plan for Christmas or my headspace would be about as fucked as it comes. For New Year’s I had already made plans: since the Artist was coming to America, I figured I would see her for the holiday.

“But I’m going to be so busy,” she reminded me.

“I don’t get much time off; I’ll pop down and just come back up.”

“I'll be in Florida; I can’t come see you.”

“I’ll come to you.”

“For one day?”

“Sure, why not?”

I also knew the Artist would be flying through Chicago for Christmas and would have a layover here before heading on to Florida. Which lead to several conversations about how I should meet her in the airport on Christmas day.

“But it’s Christmas?! You should do whatever you have planned.”

“I don’t have plans.”

“You should!”

True enough. So I set out to make plans. Several discussions with the Boy finally resulted in a thought about having a traditional Chinese dinner.

“Is that traditional?” he asked.

“It’s what they do in The Christmas Story.”

“Sold.”

So we made a reservation to have duck at Sun-wah, the best Peking duck in Americavillle for Christmas day. Since I had been introduced to the duck place by the Electrician it would have been rude to go and not ask for Christmas company.

“Duck dinner on Christmas day; are you in?”

“Was that even a question?” responded the Electrician and so it was settled.


Monday, January 06, 2014

Do I Look Like I Won't Cut You?

Sitting at home after a day of raw food cooking with not much else to do, I remarked to the Boy “I feel like I am forgetting something.”

“Huh. I wonder what?”

At five it hit me. I had promised to go to a holiday party hosted by my quiz teammate, the Realtor. Our quiz team was doing all right and I wanted to go out and do her holiday thing. Remembering this at five on a Saturday was not a good idea.

“We could still go,” said the Boy.

“Let me check the invite.”

“It says 'into the night.'”

“Let me call.”

So I called.

“This is Sara. I totally got the dates messed up. Can we still make it?”

“Well the party is only just starting to get inappropriate.”

“That is usually my cue. We should be there in an hour.”

So I packed up four bottles of wine, poured myself into a dress and with a careful walk to the car in the freezing rain, we hit the road for downtown Chicago. Aside from the weather, the traffic was good and we made it in roughly thirty-five minutes (which was not bad at all), and were able to find parking in short order as well.

“You know, I haven’t been in many residential buildings in downtown Chicago, but pretty much every time I have been in one, it’s this building.”

It turned out that the Realtor and her husband lived in a building that was also occupied by some Shimerians, so it was a place that my love has had occasion to visit more than once. The apartment was lovely, quite cozy actually, reminding me rather a lot of Korean apartments, being both compact but practical in layout; the difference was that the bathroom was larger and had a tub. Otherwise a lot of similarities. The view, of course, was fantastic.

As we arrived I introduced the Realtor to the extra bottles of wine I had packed in and passed off some pizza chips and nachos to the crowd for consumption.

“Are these gluten free?”

“They are everything free. It’s basically just flaxseed and vegetables.”

“I can eat them then,” remarked the asker, whose name was lost, but who reminded me by looks rather a lot like Jonah Hill, except with red hair. He was nice enough and was introduced as an old high school friend, whereas I was introduced as an old college friend.

The other party attendants included one other Sara (who was clearly very drunk), a dark latino that looked to be either Mexican or Cuban (but I never had a chance to ask), an older couple that were lurking about and talking to the Realtor’s husband, a bouncy copywriter who was also clearly quite drunk, and my boy. I talked a bit with the Realtor and figured now would be a really, really good time to have wine. I had the first glass while trying to have a coherent conversation with the other Sara. She, on the other hand, was being as insulting as she possibly could in Spanish to the Latino gentleman. They were clearly friends and she was clearly using this as part of a convoluted subplot to get into his pants. I’m sure she thought she was being insultingly cute. I thought she was just being insulting as I could actually understand what she was saying. The Latino she was aiming it at apparently was being charmed by it anyway as he was responding. I wanted to stay out of it, but of course had run out of wine.

The bottle I wanted ended up being next to the Latino, so I asked for the bottle. When he didn’t move I reached for the bottle, and he grabbed my wrist hard.

I had two immediate reactions. The first was to immediately freeze up and the second was to want to punch him. Fortunately for him I took a deep breath instead.

“Take your hand off me.” I said it low and quiet but I made a point.

He removed the hand.

“Sorry, sorry; I didn’t mean anything by it.” Then he tried to grab me again.

“Seriously don’t touch me, just hand over the wine,” I wanted to say give me the fucking bottle and walk away, but I managed to be somewhat polite about it.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Raw Food Oven

The raw food oven.


This batch of nacho chips came out a bit flaxier than I wanted, so next time I will increase the flax meal and reduce the flax seeds.



Pizza chips


Tortillas

There were also tomato and apple chips, but they all kept getting consumed. I’d show you the spinach chips that I tossed in there before my spinach could go off, but they also have already been consumed. It’s a yummy pastime.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Raw Food Cooking

The Boy made the foolish mistake of getting me a food dehydrator for my birthday.

“You are going to love being a raw-food vegan,” I had told him at one point, jokingly.

“Well, I like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups,” he replied.

“That’s not raw food.”  

“Well, it’s certainly not cooked.” Point to the Boy.

I had been looking at dehydrators, as I was fond of desiccating fruits and vegetables in Korea with the Irish’s dehydrator. However, I did not have one of my own in the U.S. During one late-night talk with the Artist, in which I laminated my lack of a dehydrator, she recommended that I get the Excalibur Dehydrator. Without really much thinking about it, I stuck it on my wishlist.

Imagine my surprise when the Boy started pulling it out of a box at me.

So, the dehydrating began. Mostly I wanted it to so that I could dry tomatoes and make the occasional dried zucchini chips for me as low-carb snacks, since I was still eating low-carb. So far the only thing I managed to keep the Boy from eating was the tomato chips, but everything else that came out of that dehydrator ended up consumed before I had a chance. So much for my love not enjoying being a raw-food vegan.

With a desire in mind to make some flax crackers, I started looking up recipes. I found some recipes for some very interesting crackers, tortilla chips, and tortillas themselves (among other things), and after about five minutes of reading through recipes I bought myself a set of raw-food cookbooks. The additional consequences of this was that I dragged the Boy to the grocery store at 8 o’clock on a Friday night so I could get a lot of vegetables to desiccate.

The results were pretty good, with batches of tortilla chips, pizza chips, tortillas, and nachos. All were delicious. All were low carb. I was in love with that machine.