Sunday, January 30, 2005

Winter Weekend

Had an excellent dinner last night at Bistro Campagne, in Lincoln Square. I highly reccommend it and will definitely be going back myself. Much better than the Rush Street hotspot, Bistro Zinc, where I ate a few weeks ago.

Today Baker and I went for a walk around Promontory Point (other photos here, here and here show it in the spring) trying to soak up a little sunshine and take advantage of the view. The view of downtown was less spectacular than it has been on other occasions but the lake itself was quite magnificent. Some others concur, as you see from their photographic documentation of the phenomenon.

As you can see, the lake really no longer looks like a body of water. The idea of walking across to Michigan is tempting, but the chunky, icy terrain ends out there somewhere, and the water is mighty cold. So don't worry; I'm not about to attempt anything stupid.

Still, the idea of churning water shifting those frozen plates, splashing over rocks and freezing in mid-motion is fascinating. I guess Lake Michigan does have at least this one thing over the mother of all bodies of water, the sea. Now if only you could surf on it...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Disgruntled Blogger

I wrote a whole post this afternoon that was very artfully composed and incredibly insightful.

And then the stupid Blogspot server ate it.

So you lose. This is all you get. Maybe I'll feel more inclined to trust this confounded machine tomorrow, after my in-class presentation is over.

Maybe it serves me right though. I should write all my posts in Word and save them every few seconds. There's nothing so maddening as losing half an hour's worth of carefully transcribed thoughts.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Pig

In an effort to motivate myself to study, for two Sundays in a row I've gone to The Bourgoeis Pig, a little coffee house in Lincoln Park near DePaul University. It's always packed to the gills with people trying to look studious. Still, it's nice. They don't care if you stay there for three hours nursing one cup of coffee and their menu of sandwiches and bizarre soy milk/flavored syrup/espresso drinks takes up four chalkboards behind the counter. I highly recommend it. Just don't take my table.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Snow Blows

On Thursday afternoon, if you'd ask me how I felt about snow, I would have waxed nostalgic about how much I loved snow as a kid and how sad it is that we all don't embrace and relish the snow these days.

Today? Pffft.

Today I'm pissed because the enormous mounds of white stuff have basically rendered me prisoner in my own home. I was supposed to go meet Sarah downtown for dinner and possibly a movie, but venturing beyond my own doorstep has presented itself as a potentially dangerous and definitely wet, cold, uncomfortable, laborious, and long-lasting undertaking.

So here I am, for the second week in a row, home on a Saturday night. I realize I'm not alone. All around the city people are probably bunking down in warm, homey places. But for those who live near good restaurants, good bars, and other friends, the notion of bundling up and hoofing it a few blocks to enjoy one another's company is still within reason.

Of course if I had any perspective on the situation, I'd be thanking all that is good and holy that I actually have a warm, comfortable apartment in which to spend this snowy night. But all I can do is mope and curse the frozen water that's literally filled up the city and stranded me here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Today I spoke up several times in my Medieval Romance class. Today I confessed my fear of failure to a professor. Today I found out about a summer study abroad program in Avignon to which I am going to apply. Today I went to practice not particularly excited to pull 16 100m pieces. But I got angry after I pulled the 15th at a 1:50.0 split, and today I pulled my 16th piece at a 1:48.9. Today was a pretty good day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Blogger's Block

The problem with having such a fantastic blog is the subsequent pressure the blogger feels to uphold his reputation. Every time I sit down to write, I feel the need to produce the witty and scintillating prose I am known for. That's tough to work through.

Putting pressure on myself is one of my fortes. I'm better at doing that than probably anything else. And as I've expressed now to many people, the pressure to quality-of-work relationship in my life can be viewed very clearly as a bell curve on a graph. Pressure motivates me to a certain point, but then it starts to stifle, strangle, and paralyze me.

I don't mean to be defeatist about it. I'm happy to have it as a motivating force, but sometimes the p-word gets to be too much. And since, when it comes right down to it, I'm really the main source of this pressure, it's maddening that it can get so intense.

As I continue to work on a paper that I have to rewrite, I find myself in a constant and bloody fistfight with my own Mr. P. He sits right on my left shoulder there, sneering, jeering, and generally distracting me in any way he can. "What the hell is that sentence?" he'll scoff. "Do you have any idea what you're talking about?" He goes right for the jugular most of the time, gesturing toward the computer screen and whispering snidely, "Maybe you should just reconsider your entire graduate school career. This stuff is crap!"

So I'll be damned if I let him sneak into my blogging space and start taunting me here. I need to post more often, whenever I feel like it, because this writing should be fun and easy. And I know you'll still love me even if I throw up a bad post. Even if Mr. P here says otherwise.

P.S. Need confirmation of my genius? Here it is. I've inspired an old friend to start a blog of her own: me: re my life

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Beauty School Drop-Out

Now I knew that I was taking a risk by making an appointment for a hair cut at the Aveda Institute of Chicago. I only wanted a trim, though, and $13 sounded like exactly the amount I wanted to spend on one. Of course, at that price the options are limited. It's either Supercuts or beauty school, so I chose the latter.

So I don't know why I'm surprised that I wasn't blown away by the results. Still, after sitting in that chair for an hour and 40 minutes you'd think I'd have something positive to say. And wait, I do. At least she didn't cut off too much. Honestly, I don't think she cut off any. I saw the scissors and heard them snip, but I'm not sure I really saw any hair fall to the floor. Besides, she needed the majority of that hour and 40 minutes to "style" my hair, a process which involved mostly loading it up with 4 different kinds of product, blow-drying it, rewetting it, adding more product, and then sort of blow-drying it again.

Anyway, what really surprised me was that these "students" behaved in a way shockingly similar to the high school students I taught in a former life. For the duration of my haircut, another student, who didn't have a client that afternoon, sat in her own chair and stared at me, chattering away with my stylist-in-training about everything from Chipotle burritos to their plans for Saturday night to the haircut she'd botched that morning.

The best little exchange however was this one: (It made me want to tell the idle student that before pursuing a license in hair design, she might have been better served by attending the school of tact.)

Idle student to mine, wielding hair dryer: "Jessica, you remind me of my dad."

Hair dryer stops.

Jessica (my stylist) says: "I remind you of your dad?"

Hair drying resumes.

I.S. : "No, I don't mean like the way you act."

Hair dryer stops.

Jessica: "Oh, so the way I look?" (Now, I must interject here, that, unfortunate as it was, Jessica was somewhat manly in appearance, and also, though not necessarily unfortunate, clearly of a non-western, non-caucasian ethnic background.)

I.S. : "No, no, no. I just mean... you're like... foreign, like my dad."

Jessica: "Did you just say foreign?"

I.S. : "Well, I mean, you're like, not American."

Jessica: "I was born in Oak Park!"

I.S. (turning red and scrambling out of her chair) : "OK, fine." (And, just before running away completely) "But you're definitely brown."

So three months from now, will I be making another appointment at the Aveda Institute? I'll let you be the judge of that, but let's just say the outcome may be a good gauge of just how poor and desperate I am at that point.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

It's Not Just a Josh Hartnett Movie

My exploration/adeventures in Wicker Park have been few and far between so I decided that it would be today's destination. I knew I could pique my friend Erin's interest by making the uber-trendy knitting shop Nina our meeting place.

At first the shop reminded me of a designer clothing store, by which I am very easily initimidated and thus into which I hardly ever go. But once familiar faces showed up, I felt much more at ease. And of course Erin had no trouble convincing me that I needed to purchase my own skein and needles with which to start my own knitting habit. So here I am, with a ball of beautiful pink, purple, and slate blue variegated yarn which I hope to soon turn into a beautiful pink, purple, and slate blue variegated scarf. Stay tuned.

We also visited Paper Doll, a cute little card and paper goods store a few blocks down, that was guarded by the terrifying Maude, an amazingly cute little pug with an attitude. (Scroll down on this page to see a picture of her.)

After exploring a little further without finding much more of interest, we had a beer and some chips and guacamole at Moonshine (which was eh, OK) and then took the 70 bus east to more familiar ground (hey, I'd been adventurous enough for one day).

We found ourselves on Rush, where we wandered a bit until deciding on Bistro Zinc for dinner. I thought it was relatively authentic for a mid-western French restaurant until the waiter butchered the pronunciation of a pretty simple dish. Then I lost all respect for the place. The food was OK, but I can't really provide a thorough review because I wasn't in the mood to dig in to something big and meaty so as to get a real feel for the chef's prowess.

All in all a good day. I must say that it seems as if Chicago has sort of emptied out now that the Christmas season has come and gone. Maybe it's just a lack of suburbanites wandering the streets in their matching cheerleader jackets and fanny packs, but the city sure seems less crowded to me. Now instead of dodging crowds on Michigan Avenue, you have to hurl yourself across lake-sized slush puddles at each intersection. Ah the joys of winter. Only four and half months left...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Trials and Tribulations

New Year's? Again? I could sit here and ruminate on the ridiculousness that is the passage of time, but I won't. It's too overwhelming.

On an equally depressing note, I'll discuss instead the woes of apartment living. Noisy upstairs neighbors and creepy cockroaches are rearing their ugly heads again. Poisonous spray and letters to the landlord are part of my counterattack, the efficacy of both still somewhat in question.

And if you told me in early December that I'd ever say what I'm about to, I'd laugh you right out of the city, but I'm actually ready to start the work again. I busied myself this morning with unpacking and cleaning out and rearranging, which theoretically I could do forever, but now I'm bored. Dare I say... bring on the Baudelaire, the Chretien de Troyes, and the resumes de texte. I need something to stress out about.