Things I want to do before leaving Chicago

Mischief managed

  • Art Institute — Valentine’s Day 2016
  • Architecture Boat Tour — with the Kristens
  • Chicago History Museum — thanks, Groupon!
  • Chicago Pride! — 2015
  • Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade/River Dye — 2013
  • Field Museum — with the Fitches
  • Christkindlmarkt — with Hill + Tallulah
  • Hancock Tower (best brunch!) — with the Fitches
  • Cloud Gate — February 2015
  • Navy Pier  — with the Kristens
  • Frank Lloyd Wright tour — with the Kristens
  • National Museum of Mexican Art — March 2016
  • The Plant (tour) — March 2016
  • Garfield Park Conservatory — March 2016
  • Lakefront Trail — June 2012 
  • Buckingham Fountain — June 2012
  • Haunted History tour — Thanks, Pat + Steve for the Christmas gift!
  • A day in Andersonville — April 2016
  • Swedish American Museum — April 2016
  • Weiner’s Circle for a legit Chicago dog — April 2016

Things that need advance tickets

  • Cubs game
  • Food Planet Tour
  • Second City
  • Museum of Science and Industry *Part of Chicago CityPass
  • Adler Planetarium *Part of Chicago CityPass
  • Shedd Aquarium *Part of Chicago City Pass

Things that don’t need advance tickets

  • Chicago Botanic Garden – free (parking is $$$)
  • Bahá’í House – free
  • Northwestern U – free
  • Lincoln Park
    • Conservatory – free (parking is $$$)
    • Zoo – free
    • Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum – $9
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – $12
  • The 606 – free
  • The Rookery – free
  • Chicago Cultural Center – free
  • Harold Washington Library – free
  • McCormack Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum – $5
  • Day on the lake – free
  • Univ. of Chicago, including Harper Library, Rockefeller Chapel, and the Oriental Institute Museum – free

Trips to take

  • Madison to visit friends
  • Milwaukee for the art museum
  • South Bend, Indiana to visit Notre Dame
  • Michigan lakefront weekend
  • St. Louis, MI for the botanical garden and friends
  • Kansas City, MO for the art museum and BBQ
  • Racine, WI (for fresh kringles)
  • Detroit + Ann Arbor for the beer
  • Fargo, ND to cross North Dakota off the list
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • House on the Rock, Wisconsin

Things I think we’ll run out of time to do

  • Chinese New Years Parade
  • Chicago Big Bus tour with Chicago Architecture Foundation
  • Bears game
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Door County, Wisconsin
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
  • Springfield, Illinois
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Duluth, Minnesota

“just thinking about it”

On Friday, a friend asked me at lunch how things were going.

I was apprehensive to give a real answer, so consider me surprised to report that what I said was the following: “I feel like there’s a lot transpiring behind the scenes… on the back burner.  Like I’m spending a lot of time sorting things out and it’s maybe like I’m in the contemplation phase for a whole lot of things.

She nodded graciously, which was (apparently) the encouragement I needed to begin word vomit.

“Like… food is a big one.  I’ve been thinking more and more – gosh, I’m even hesitant to say this – I’ve been preoccupied with a question: what would shift if I ate in alignment with my integrity?

She nodded again, and took a big bite of chicken shwarma.

“Because, you know, I’m conscientious of the toll of doing other things out of alignment with integrity.  And food is a near-constant. I do it multiple times per day, every day. And it’s got me thinking, or wondering: what possible shifts could take place if that one piece was a better fit?”

And I bristle at the idea of politicizing all food choices, even though they are a political statement in some ways, and I don’t have much interest in being some kind of food person… you know, the food people who have constant, evolving food needs…. because food is so social.  And I don’t want to have such hard and fast rules that I have to make every restaurant decision or plan every holiday meal.  Being obsessive about food does not align with my integrity…”

“But the standard american diet, y’know?  The standard american diet is built around convenience and mass standardization, not health, nutrition, seasons, regions, or sustainability.  And right now, I don’t have to ever question if I will be able to find food at an airport, a truck stop, or in a restaurant.  I wish the entire food system was whole, real foods and less genetically modified.  Y’know, and it’s tricky because some genetically modified foods can be credited with saving humanity and others are downright killing humanity. I’m worried about petrochemicals, and groundwater toxins and soil depletion, and mercury in our oceans and Fukushima.  I’m still really disturbed by Fukushima and what that means for fish and seafood and not to mention the entire oceanic system. And I am really, definitely, 100% morally opposed to factory farming, and the conditions that mass-produced meat come from, but I’m not opposed to eating animals.  And it seems impossible to come up with hard and fast rules that totally fit, but I wonder if there’s a rule, like 80/20, that will work enough.  Y’know, 80/20? People use that.”

“…I think a lot of this started with paring down my wardrobe.  Yeah, because that process really forced me to think about what I wanted to buy… and I could buy cheap, disposable clothes from [retailer], and then dispose of them and add to the world’s garbage, and buy MORE cheap, disposable clothes but that is not what I want, and it definitely doesn’t align with my integrity.”

I was learning things by monologuing.  Saying it aloud made me notice just where my thought process was at that moment.  It’s easy for thoughts or feelings to be a jumble when they’re internal.  When they are transposed for an audience, they seem to straighten them selves out (at least a bit).

For a while, it was important to me to be able to just buy things because I could.  I think it comes from having no money to having some money.  When I finally got some money, I spent it.  For like 5 years. And for a while, the cheap, disposable clothes worked really well for me but this wardrobe project I think might have started a new phase.  And it’s really made me think: ethically, morally and politically, I feel better about sustainable, long-lasting fabrics and clothing items that will last me a good while.”

“And I can afford to think and buy this way. And it makes me feel like if I can afford it, I have to vote with my dollars.”

“So anyway, this whole thing is happening in the background and I’m excited for what it could mean but I’m also – get this–  I’m also scared.  I’m scared of what becomes possible if I eat more in alignment!  That sounds … I don’t know, not like me? I don’t consider myself to be scared of much? I don’t know what that’s about exactly, but I’m not ready to put things into action yet.  I’m not ready to like, make a concrete action plan or start taking steps. I’m still just thinking about it.

My gracious friend shared a story about someone else she knows who eats based on her principles, the 80/20 rule, and how where you live impacts the food you eat.  She started talking about Portland and Oakland, and how much easier it is to make the choice for good food when good food is plentiful, abundant, and open at all hours.  We talked about how the midwest feels 15 years behind, and the South feels 20 or 25.  We talked about the first time we touched a styrofoam cup after living in places where it’s been virtually eliminated… and I wondered aloud what other ubiquitous materials we might cease to touch or hold in the future.

So that’s how things are going.


Soundtrack: Medicine for the People

The person who recommended this to me said: “Whenever I find myself doubting my purpose I watch this video.”



Lend your ear, lend your hands
lend your movement, anything you can.
Come to teach, come to be taught. Come in the likeness, in the image of God.

Cause you can be like that. With all that humbleness and all that respect.
All of the power invested in me.
Be it hard to love my enemies.
All of the black bags over the heads of the dead and dying.

The more I understand about the human race.
The less I comprehend about our purpose and place. And maybe if there was a clearer line. The curiosity would satisfy.
Time-based prophesies have kept me from living, In the moment I am struggling to trust the divinity. Of all the gods. And what the hell they have planned for us.
I cry for the creatures who get left behind. But everything will change in the blink of an eye.
And if you wish to survive, you will find the guide inside.

I go back and forth every single day, the clarity it comes to me in the choppy waves, the feelings and the places and the seasons change, the galaxies remain. Energy fields pulling our body to space, the angels that are coming to the spiritual waste, the hate that gets me distant from my spiritual pace, tenfold the manna when the planets are in place.
In polar alignment.
We’re on assignment.
Bodies on consignment.
Return’em to the circus.
And what is the purpose, what is the purpose.
And would you believe it, would you believe it.
If you knew what for you were for, and how you became so informed, bodies of info performing such miracles, I am a miracle made up of particles.
And in this existence. I’ll stay persistent, and I’ll make a difference, and I will have lived it.

Aloha, aloha
ke akua, ke akua,
Aloha, aloha
kuleana, kuleana.

Each day that I wake , I will praise, I will praise.
Each day that I wake, I give thanks, I give thanks.
Each day that I wake, I will praise, I will praise.
Each day that I wake, I give thanks, I give thanks.

And the day that I don’t wake up, and the transcend the holy make up. I am capable. I am powerful.
The day that I don’t wake up, and the transcend the holy make up. I am on my way to a different place.

I’m not a leader, just a creature seeking the features of a teacher, whether you follow whether you lead, all the mysterious ways of nature, And I’m into it. Changin management.
And there are various ways to conquer this monotonous metropolis. My stubbornness is bottomless. My fearlessness is talkin’ shit, and I’m wide awake. And I’m takin’names.

Do you speak to me like you speak to God, all of the love and understanding between the father and the son? Do you believe in the perfectness of where you are? These are people, these are my children, This is the land that I would fight for. My solidarity is tellin’ me to patiently, be movin’ the musical medicine around the planet in a hurry. Cause there’s no time to wait, gotta wake up the people, time to stand up and say:

We know what we are for. And how we became so informed. Bodies of info perfoming such miracles. I am a miracle made up of particles.
And in this existence. I’ll stay persistent. And I’ll make a difference. And i will have lived it.


Photoessay: a Chicago Saturday

  • Tour The Plant, a former meat packing plant being retrofit as a closed loop urban farm/factory that produces mushrooms, cheese, vegetables, beer, kombucha, coffee, a wood-fired bakery, and fish.  All of the waste is being redirected to other parts of the collective that can benefit.  The Plant sits on the south side of Chicago, in a neighborhood with limited options for low-impact food sourcing.
  • Swing through Ferrara Bakery for a taste of old Italian-style treats.  This place has been running continuously for 108 years by the same family.
  • Wander through the National Museum of Mexican Art.
  • Quick errands in Andersonville and West Town.
  • Drive along Lake Shore.
  • A dinner of tacos + Tecate at Big Star in Wicker Park.

no mud, no lotus

More and more I’m leaning into being.  I find that we unconsciously ask one another about doing constantly:

“What’d you do this weekend?”

“What do you want to do today?”

“What are you doing for lunch?”

All of this focus on doing underscores how spectacularly out of balance most of us are.

I spent most of this weekend being.  Being present. Being aware.  Being mindful. Breathing in, breathing out.  Repeat.

Yesterday, I sung at the top of my lungs from the backseat while rolling through the suburbs of Chicago to buy burritos after apartment hunting.  I picked up a friend at Starbucks after she’d put some time into a paper for school.  I let myself feel carried and nurtured by friend love during a video chat with my three amigos.  I spoke with my mom on the phone while a breeze blew through every corner of my house.  (I told her: “‘Spring cleaning’ has a different meaning in the midwest.”) I took a salt bath, and opened my back and shoulders with some incredible morning yoga in front of my fireplace.  Tonight, I took savasana out on my balcony and let the sunshine wash away all my grief.  I had visions of a small container garden made out of an upcycled pallet and contemplated what might shift if I attempted to garden again. (I always seem to find myself going back to the land.)

I watched birds visit my lanai this morning: two mourning doves, and a cardinal.  The geese have been bananas all winter (flying here, flying there, never quite seeming to migrate south), but these new little fellas are harbingers of something untold.

“If dove flies into your life, you are being asked to go within and release your emotional disharmony, be it of the past or the present. Dove helps us to rid trauma stored within our cellular memory. Humming can help you with this release.” (Source)

Later, I pulled two cards from my Kuan Yin deck.

The first: Blossoms of the Sky Dancer.

Message:  Kuan Yin brings you guidance that you are creating something important right now, something that is aligned with heavenly forces and light, that is significant for the path of the spiritual awakening on this planet.  Whether you are fully conscious of it or not, it IS happening.  Your spiritual light is flowing into the physical plane with the intention to manifest certain life situations and circumstances.  These manifestations are in accordance with your spiritual path and Kuan Yin will support you…skydancer

The way of the Sky Dancer Kuan Yin is the Yin Way or the way of Divine Magnestism.  Yin power is the consciousness and ‘beingness’ that allows us to draw into our lives that which we desire.  … Rather than going out and striving for it, as though we do not have it within us already, we can grow in our ability to simply be and become simultaneously, until we experience it physically in our lives.  It is only a matter of time until it happens.

To cultivate Yin Power to allow creation to manifest in your physical reality, you can focus more on allowing, flowing, surrendering, and participating in the greater flow, rather than the usual ways in Western culture of doing, making things happen, forcing, intending, and holding.  Kuan Yin guides you now to balance doing with being…

The second: Vale of Shadows.

Message:  Your Soul lotus is blossoming.  Just like a plant that outgrows the pot in which it has been panted and requires more soil to spread its roots and continue growing, your soul lotus needs some more mud – some more water and earth energy – so that it can grow and shine.

In the spiritual worlds, all things serve.  Everything.  Including our darker emotions and parts of our body that we may not think are acceptable.  …It is about delving into the parts of you that have been hidden in the vale of shadows and are now becoming ready to be revealed and lived as a part of the beautiful and whole being that you are in truth.

In particular this oracle asks you to look at where you can nourish your emotional and physical life with more focus – perhaps through art, creativity, journaling your dreams, creating collages, or engaging in dance or other forms of movement.  Your spirit needs it to thrive at this time.

I’m reminded of one of my favorites: