Monday, July 9, 2012

on friend town and grown ups.

We spent the weekend in Cleveland for a wedding with some of my best best best friends from college.  A lot of our downtime was preoccupied with discussion of locating and deciding upon a friend town; a not-as-expensive-as-Chicago smaller city, with decent public schools and excellent entertainment and cultural offerings where we could all move together and happily raise our eventual families. Cleveland? Minneapolis? St. Louis? Can we bring back Detroit? (A: No, we are not that noble.)

A lot of our downtime was also preoccupied with discussion we euphemistically titled "Real Talk," soundtracked by Taylor Swift, which proved that the older we get the more like children we become. P.S. Oh god, our 28+ year old bodies are not as forgiving of fun as they were 6 or 7 years ago. Awful.

Anyways, being with those people is like therapy and Prozac liquified and injected directly into my veins. Procter and Gamble, can you get on this?

Also, I caught (read: nabbed) the bride's bouquet for the first time ever! I returned to our table, and in my most gracious and ladylike voice I announced, SUCK IT KEVIN.

His number is up. One step closer to a life like this...

(but really picture tears streaming down my face and my shirt covered in spaghetti sauce and the baby laughing at my grave misfortune... and add a gajillion pounds. Are they on me? Or did I have a gigantic superbaby? You decide, it's your mental image. Personally, I'm going with Godzilla baby).

Anyways... pictures of mothers doin' it right, from The Glow, where I go when my brain is like, hey, you haven't been jealous of anything in a few minutes... let's fix that:

All photos by Kelly Stuart for The Glow.

P.S. There's an excellent blog series on NYT right now called simply "Anxiety." I can't explain exactly why but there's a complicated reassurance in the knowledge that OTHER PEOPLE DO THIS TOO. Here's one of my favorite passages, from an essay titled "Toasted," by Thaddeus Rutkowski:

Bottom line: If my neighbors don’t set a fire, our child will. Our daughter doesn’t know how to work the “Toast” and “Heat” buttons on the toaster oven. She thinks that once the timer stops ticking, the oven is off. But if the control knob is still turned to high heat, the oven is on. I picture the toaster switched off while the oven is set to 450 degrees. That’s hot enough to ignite anything burnable.

A solution, of course, would be to clean the toaster oven and move it away from the wall. That way, there would be nothing to burn. But these steps are beyond me, mainly because I never think of them while I’m in the apartment. I think of them only as I walk away from the building that will shortly become a cinder.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


A list of things a week of freedom hath brought:
-relearning to sleep in
-watching the first season of Game of Thrones (OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?)
-a ladies day of manicures and magazines in Andersonville
-lunch with my grandparents
-the time to read two books (I'm on a nonfiction murder kick, heaven help me)
-a new morning iced tea ritual
-a girls' night with friends from work
-a considerable drop in my weekly output of tears

We spent our lazy Sunday afternoon strolling through our neighborhood and into the tiny stop-and-go streets of Old Town Triangle, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and tc-ing our respective b. His is interview prep for tomorrow morning (fingers crossed times a million), and mine was hammering away at this old bedroom situation of ours. We painted the walls flat black last spring, and with the new wall color came a shift in ideas of what the room should look like. With the addition of a new bed bench we picked up at Brownstone Antiques this weekend, the layout of the middle of the room is very much like this:
Since it is a huge whopper of a room, we have ample space (both wall space & floor) on either side of the bed. One side has a Chippendale style 60s or 70s buffet that we found at the Brown Elephant a month or so ago. We're using it as a dresser/ vanity. I don't have pictures of it yet as she's having some hardware issues. The other side of the bed is empty save for an Ikea chair I'm trying to offload on Craigslist and a little Chippendale side table.

A few months ago we were running errands at Home Depot and I dragged Kevin into the Home Decorators shop inside the store. BAM. Chesterfield. I had seen it in the catalog, but it looked so much cooler in person. Bonus points? Kevin walked straight to it and sat down. Not even 'cause I told him to! He thought it would be great for that empty space in the bedroom.

It's made of "recycled leather," (an interesting article about which you can read on Furniture Today), so it's at a lower price point than many other Chesterfields on the market. Even so, we've been laying low and biding our time, but I noticed that delivery on all seating is free this weekend, so I did it. As of this week, this shall be ours:

Gordon Tufted Loveseat from Home Decorators
After we settle on the rest of the artwork and get things up on the walls, we'll (finally!) be done. For now.

P.S. Would you rather....




Just askin'... (left from Laurie Sarah Designs, right by Adzia)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


"Yea" would be pronounced (YAY).

"Ya" is (YAAAH).

"Yeah" is the spelling of the term of agreement you're looking for. 

Ann M. Martin taught me that at a tender young age. Texters, take note.

on tunes and rooms. yeah, i made it rhyme.

My pretty girl is back again! Listen to the whole thing here

Fiona Apple photo by Dan Monick for NPR

In other news:

Graduation & job hunting for him,

The portfolio cover I came up with for Kevin (last name artfully blurred).

 New bedroom ideas for her,
Less orange-y reds. Too garish with the black paint. More coral and sleeker, contrasting bedside lamps.The pillows that look white are actually an off-white, the same color as the headboard and coverlet.
and the realization that I really, really need to buy Photoshop this summer. 

P.S. Here's how my ideas for our bedroom have evolved over the years:

2012; painted walls black (Martha Stewart's Francesca)

2011; painted walls navy

2010; all over the place trying to make things more "manly" by adding nautical shazz and blue. Did not work. 

 ...and for kicks, my 2008 bedroom/entire apartment (325 square feet; no Kevin). Look past the Easter dress. It's the only picture of the bed I could find.

Super twee, super late aughts decor8 inspired. First generation West Elm pintuck bedding what WHAT.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

in and out.

Witnessed one of these in real life today, and it was brilliant:

Printer's Row Lit Fest weekend is the harbinger of summer. Last year, it was the harbinger of a summer of mystery stress-related rashes that led my dermatologist to suggest I see a hypnotist.

This year, let it just be the harbinger of summer.

Shall I say it some more? Harbinger, harbinger, harbinger.

Occupying my time lately:

Photo from Kate Spade.


Pointe by '13 or bust. From here.

I decided I needed more hobbies outside of looking at other people's houses on the internet and feeling unsatisfied and poor. See also: F Your Noguchi Coffee Table. Brilliant.

Monday, May 21, 2012

two things.

Oh GOD, I'm on a mood roller coaster lately. I broke out in stress hives last night! Attractive!

Anyways, here are two additional things (aside from all of the other things) that are making me emote today.

One. HappySad: a very sweet farewell combining Kirsten Wiig, Win and Règine Butler, Mick Jagger and Amy Poehler...

Two. SadSad: Indian Boundary's field house burned down yesterday.

Photo from
Half of my childhood memories take place in and around this building. My mom and I would feed bits of stale bread to the ducks at the pond there. We used to save up the pieces in a bag in the freezer. (Do NOT feed the ducks bread. Incredibly bad for them).

I went to preschool in that building. And art class. And Chicago Children's Choir rehearsals. I remember being in one of its rooms diligently practicing number writing, not understanding why a nine had to face a certain direction.

A: Because otherwise it's a P, dummy!

I was still very young when the clunky rusted-metal equipment on the playground got replaced by a wooden maze the neighborhood pitched in to build. Is there anything better as a kid than tepees and secret passages and hideouts? There is not. The entire playlot was like the best treehouse in the biggest tree.

Photo from A Chicago Sojourn
The field house was a beautiful old 1920's Tudor style building that had landmark status. I know people will work tirelessly to restore it, but today it feels like a loss. I wish I would have gone back into the building at least once since I grew up.

Photo from the Chicago Park District

I grew up.

How strange that feels.

P.S. Additional disheartening Chicago news: a walk around our neighborhood yesterday revealed that some IDIOT tagger defaced two of my fave Lincoln Park landmarks: the Wrigley Mansion and the statue of William Shakespeare. IDIOT.

(I pledge to be more positive the next time I post. Probably because it will be summer by then.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

you're doing it wrong: obama edition.

So, I don't have an "About Me" page because a) the three people that check this know me, and b) I can't come up with anything to write that doesn't make me feel like a weirdo.

But here's some background necessary for the rest of this post.  I'm twenty-seven years old. I've lived in Chicago my entire life, except four years just north of the border at Northwestern. Until college, I was educated exclusively at public schools. I stood in Grant Park on the night of November 4, 2008, electrified with hope and pride. I have a Masters degree in Elementary Education, and my philosophy on teaching and children would be categorized as progressive.  When I felt called to this profession (and honestly, maybe I felt more called to children than I did to a teaching "career"), I knew with certainty that I would only work in the Chicago Public Schools. It was where I came from, and it always feels nice to go home.

I've been a teacher for three years. They have been, without doubt, the hardest years of my life-- and this is coming from someone who lived with an unmedicated & violent bipolar parent, has had depression since childhood,  and dealt with eating disorders for seven years. Not complaining, just facts. "About Me," remember?

I expected them to be hard; to teach well is hard. But this school year has gone above and beyond on the difficulty factor. I'm a sensitive person by nature. I take things personally and feel things deeply.  And to see elected officials in this city-- people I once admired-- spin and politicize and posture almost daily in the media about what the teachers are doing wrong makes me sick. Literally.

This fall, I had so many panic attacks that I went from taking one type of medication to taking three just to function. The work-related anxiety and pressure I felt were through the roof. There were serious conversations in this apartment about a quick city hall marriage (not at all what we have envisioned for our wedding) so that I could quit mid-year and keep Kevin's benefits. I did not know what to do. I didn't think I would make it.

I've made it. But almost every day I read or hear something about how teachers are lazy, with their fat pensions and summers off and bloated salaries. I have no doubt that some teachers are lazy, with fat pensions, who take their summers off and collect a tidy little sum. But I don't know any of those people. They're not at my school; they're not the people I went to grad school with.  The people I know work 7 to 5, just like me. They spend several weeks of the summer planning and preparing and organizing. They work through lunches and work at home and on weekends.

So every time I see that generalization being made, I feel a little more devalued, a little more less than. Everything I do feels a little more futile.

To be quite frank, there is a small part of me that is angry that I didn't know better. My whole life, I've been successful when it comes to traditional schooling. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I was supposed to be "successful" when I grew up. So how did I screw up so royally when it came to choosing a profession? Why are people I went to school with who work the same hours I do making salaries that are tens of thousands more than mine? Why am I working so hard when people don't respect what I doI should be more successful, I tell myself. I shouldn't be in this situation. 

But I am. And even with all of the garbage swirling around teaching right now, there are still those moments that make it worth it. My students walked in on Monday morning with a huge vase of flowers and dozens of ridiculous and sparkly handmade cards. Someone made me the Emerald City out of Play-Doh. Why? Two reasons. One, my kids are super cute and two, it's National Teacher Appreciation Week. I had no idea. 

For that morning, I felt better about what I do again. I remembered why I do it.

This morning, I learned that the President issued a proclamation on Monday. It was to declare this week-- this week-- National Charter School Week.  If you're not familiar with education, the move to charter (basically to privatize) education is a very political, divisive issue.  The President made a political statement that was a slap in the face to  to many at a time when teachers are being blamed for a NATION'S failure... on the one week that was supposed to be about celebrating all teachers, regardless of what school you're teaching in.

Obama? You're doing it wrong. 

*Obama's daughters attended an expensive progressive private school while they lived in the city, not a public charter school. The Mayor sends his children to the same private school; one that emphasizes learning over test scores. The latter is the Mayor's main concern for Chicago's school district-- as long as it's not his children that are affected by it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

all you need to know about friday night at our place.

Kevin just got back from an two day overnight field trip, and my new thing is getting a chicken. Not a full coop until we have a house and backyard, but just a chicken. Tonight's Google searches have included "can I keep a chicken as a pet?" and "chicken diapers."  He is so happy to be home.

P.S. My research led me to find that Flannery O'Connor had her first brush with fame after teaching her chicken to walk backwards as a child in Georgia. 

Film still of Mary (Flannery) O'Connor from British Pathé

 Chickens: a girl's first step toward literary greatness.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

hot chicks

Hey girl, where've you been all my life?


It's the time of year when our first floor becomes a hatchery.  I maintain there is no better way to start a day than holding a baby anything, chicken especially.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

great and terrible.

The first weekend Kevin and I were together we spent a solid amount of time shyly holding hands and roaming around Borders, which was right up my alley.  I knew I was done for right then & there.

At the time, he was directing a production of Alice in Wonderland and I was teaching The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Since then, we've built up a collection of various versions of each book.

I came home to a surprise Amazon box today with this inside: 

It's from the Penguin Threads line. Jillian Tamaki did the first three last year, as you saw at an Anthropologie near you. The artwork for this one is by Rachell Sumpter, and is one of three new additions to the series. You can see the rest here.  The embroidery looks incredibly realistic, and both the front and back cover are embossed.  My favorite discovery was the inside covers which show the backs of the original embroidered pieces, like the threads on the back of the tag in your shirt.

 On great and terrible days like today, it's the little things that get you through.

Monday, April 30, 2012

tennessee escapist fantasy.

When I'm this low down, it's a mountain's worth of climbing to crawl out of it.  I'm about 6 inches off the ground at this point, with a few hundred vertical miles ahead.

Currently dreaming about summer in Nashville...

rockers on the front porch of Belle Meade
fireworks for the 4th
flags on the riverfront
June & Johnny
The Ryman
...with The Civil Wars on repeat


...and this to call home. Some new landscaping and a different door/ trim color. There's certainly room for chickens in the yard. Yeah. I could live here.
house for sale on Trulia

Or here.
via Trulia

And in case you are feeling low like me but a fantasy life in Tennessee isn't gonna do the trick, here: 

Artwork by Valentina Ramos. Purchase here.

Because, somehow, it always is. Right?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

how to not waste time on the internet.

Or, at least, how I am trying not to waste time on the internet. A few weeks ago I came home from Sunday night yoga and opened my laptop. I deleted all of my bookmarks and started from scratch. I downloaded blocking software to keep myself from being tempted by sites that I either a) waste time on, or b) hate read. Yeah, that's a thing. And I do did it.

I added back bookmarks to help and not hinder, ones labeled with tags like stop worrying, go outside, laugh, move, pray, and listen. And now when I'm on the internet, I (mostly) am asking questions, learning new things, reading about reading, and finding inspiration (you can pry my Mormon design blogs out of my cold, dead hands).

from Steal Like an Artist

I got three new books in the mail on Saturday, and the first page I opened to in Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist says this:
School is one thing.  Education is another. The two don't always overlap. Whether you're in school or not, it's always your job to get yourself an education. You have to be curious about the world in which you live.  Look things up.  Chase down every reference. Go deeper than anyone else-- that's how you'll get ahead.  Google everything. I mean everything. Google your dreams, Google your problems. Don't ask a question before you Google it.  You'll either find the answer or you'll come up with a better question. Always be reading. Go to the library. There's magic in being surrounded by books. Get lost in the stacks. Read bibliographies. It's not the book you start with, it's the book that book leads you to. Collect books, even if you don't plan on reading them right away. Filmmaker John Waters has said, 'Nothing is more important than an unread library.'  Don't worry about doing research. Just search.
Kleon's gotten a lot of press lately, and I can't speak for the rest of the book yet, but I quite like that passage. There is a magic in questions leading to more questions and answers waiting to be found, be they in books, on the internet, in conversations, or just slowly being pieced together in our own minds.

P.S. Are you a fellow overflowing bookshelf type of person? Then you'll find this post, along with the Oscar Winning Animated Short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, quite sweet.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

i just want to feel everything.

So, I never feel quite comfortable saying that I struggle with depression, not for any lack of willingness to be open about it, but because most times I don't feel like I have the right to. I'm not doing depression "good enough." How 'bout that? Well I'm not in bed for weeks on end, only a day or two with a few okay days in between.  I'm able to pull it together enough to function when I have to. I do well at my job. I can smile at strangers.  These are the arguments I make to the therapist.

When I was a child, it was extreme stomach aches with no discernible cause. When I was a little older, it was self-destruction manifested through a lot of acting out (so sorry, boyfriends from 1999-2006) and disordered eating. What, me? I'm fine. I'm clearly not thin enough to be anorexic, and I'm not bulimic because I'm not strong enough to commit to anything on a regular basis. Duh.

The last few years as an adult have been the best so far, as though it's starting to unravel with time. But lately I've been prone to crippling anxiety and fear of... everything. Anything. My worry knows no bounds. So deep down, I know the depression is there. I know it to be true. And the fact that I think I'm not doing well enough at something so awful is its own stupid sort of proof.

While I'm open with friends for the most part, I don't have any close friends who are going through the same thing. Thank God for them. But that also means that when I stumble across a person who does, I morph into a puppy who is damn well planning on following you right out the door of that pet shop.  You too? This happens to you, too? It's not just because I'm some terrible, weak, flawed person?  So this is a real thing? You actually GET this? Tell me more! What's your version like? Wanna play?

If that's you too, anonymous and quite unlikely reader of this unknown blog, here.

Let me throw you a bone.  She gets it. 


I don't think I'll ever consider myself "cured," whatever that will mean for me, until I get to the point where I can fall asleep on my own. Every single night's a fight with my brain.

Friday, April 27, 2012

i wonder... what point you should stop hemming and hawing over what to do, and instead just shut up listen to that voice. That voice, once tiny and unclear, burrowing deep in the pit of your stomach; that voice that has grown slowly but steadily, scraping its way toward your heart; that voice that is now pressing into every inch of your skin as it tries to stand up screaming, steadfast and unwavering.

I don't have a destination, but I think I'm ready to head out.

   Photo by Liz von Hoene for Kate Spade.

 This song has been playing over and over in my head like it's 2005.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

here are some things that i like.

I just can't write right now. Instead, here are some pictures that I like. I feel like that should just be the title of a lot of blogs: Here are Some Things that I Like.   Or is that just called Pinterest?

Oh, the WASPiness of it all. Photo from the National Archives.

Lopsided pigtails, photographed by Heather Armstrong.  In better days.

Reading nooks, Wes Anderson (& E.L. Konigsburg) style.  Touchstone Pictures.

Black walls, photographed for Lonny. Hint: New bedroom color.

A home of one's own. Jay Schaffer of Tumbleweed Tiny Houses.

I'm trying to get under, over, and through. It will come. It always does, just like Christmas, or spring, or that day that's Taylor Hanson's birthday that's permanently etched in your memory from  adolescence. (March 14th, WHAT?) 

It's all a process. You can get through something only to realize that you're through with what you struggled for.  
Big changes (hoping, wishing, praying) coming soon.*

*Not changes in the good stuff, like Kevin, or friends, or the apartment. I'm stubbornly and irrationally resistant to all changes in the good stuff.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

currently dreaming...

of a smaller town and a larger home,
Spotted in Ann Arbor and promptly fallen in love with. 

backyard chickens and fresh Sunday eggs,

photo by Adrienne Breaux for AT

tiny creatures to scoop up, two-legged and four,

Photo by Kelly Stuart for The Glow

and the time to get lost in stacks of books.

Photo by Douglas Friedman for C Magazine

Currently doing? Procrastinating.