31 May 2012

Me, In A Nutshell

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My dear friend Adolfo emailed this gorgeous photograph to me last night, and I couldn't help but post it up here. I feel like this is one of the few portraits of me that actually captures my essence. Obviously, I'm eating. I'm coy, a little self-conscious, but happy. If I remember correctly, this photo was taken at a darling street cafe in Hamburg when I visited last summer. We were dining on strawberry cakes and hot cups of coffee after an afternoon of much needed retail therapy. Moments like this are fleeting, yet absolute bliss. Thanks for reminding me that I can relax, unwind, and enjoy myself every now and then, Adolfo!

29 May 2012

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

Inspired by Tabitha's latest post, as well as Tieka's heartbreaking post about her decision to file for divorce, I thought now is as a good a time as any to come clean with those who read my blog and seem to think that my life is peachy-keen. Because, I hate to burst anyone's bubble, especially my own, but my life is far from perfect. 


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Relationship
My relationship, though on the blog and Twitter seems pretty ideal, is incredibly challenging. Telling friends and family that I met my boyfriend on the Internet is one thing, and I'll admit, it irks me how frequently peoples' eyes glaze over when I begin to answer the question of "how did you two meet?" But beyond how we met, we were long-distance for three months, which was difficult in itself.

And then he did the incredibly selfless thing of picking up his life, and packing it into a single suitcase, to move into my old bedroom in my mother's house. And we didn't transition very well into this new thing of seeing each other every day. I wasn't ready to give up my space, my time, my room, my "long-distance-relationship life". I wasn't in the mood to have to decide what movie we'd watch, what to order on our pizza, or figure out our schedules. Sharing a bed every night was not something I grew used to easily.

And beyond the little things, our relationship has changed immensely over the last two months. In fact, there was a period when I was positive that we were going to break up. Crazy, I know. But I want you all to know that even though things were dark, and that every day presents challenges of varying degrees, this relationship is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. And while we are still figuring things out, I'm grateful for everyday I have with him. For those of you who encouraged me to end it, I did take your suggestions to heart, but I am happy with my decision to stick with him.

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Family
My parents have been separated for over a year and a half. The divorce is still being finalized. While I have been working on figuring out how to accept the major event of a 28-year marriage ending, I have come to a place of acceptance. I have relationships with both of my parents which have changed gradually in the last two years. Most days I "get it", I understand why it happened, and I accept that this has happened. We are still working the kinks out of holidays and birthdays, and I'll admit I dread Thanksgiving, even though I love food.

And I worry. I worry almost every day about how things are going to turn out. I think about what will happen to my mom, and where she will end up living. I worry about marriage itself, if it's something worth pursuing at all. I worry about my siblings, and I worry about losing my concept of family. I worry about who will watch the cats, and if everyone is happy in their new homes. But beyond worry, I miss things. I miss my family, I miss living in the same house. I miss dinner together, and cramming into the car, and going on family vacations. I know I took so much of this for granted, but I do think I had a very wonderful upbringing. I'm just in that strange gray area of figuring out what's going to happen next.

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Job
I know a lot of my friends and family and friends of family think that I love my job. That I am lucky to be working in such an amazing place. While I am grateful for full-time employment with benefits, and happy that I've had a place to keep my mind off of my relationship and a divorce for 35 hours a week, I'm willing to admit that what I do here at the museum is not my livelihood.

In 2010, I started as a wide-eyed intern in Museum Education - and I fell in love. Between completing rigorous research on the collection and getting students and members excited and engaged with art, I was in heaven and convinced this was the place for me. But the internship was eight weeks long. I was unemployed for a month, then took on a temporary position in Development, which as stated, I thought would have been temporary. Anything to work at an amazing museum, right?

Temporary turned into 14 months of photocopying, filing, mailing, and being a Jill-of-all-trades. I felt myself shrinking into my chair over time. I have a degree, I completed a thesis, I am a colorful engaging person. But I sit in a chair for seven hours, staring at a computer, feeling completely unfulfilled. I had little to no responsibility, few projects, and nothing that I am working towards. Nowhere to grow.

My temp job turned into a full-time position, but I did not choose the job, the job chose me. I seldom get into the galleries. And, I'm ashamed to admit this, but I only interact with the art when I schedule the time to do so. I have not visited any other museums in Chicago in the last year. I rarely go to gallery openings in the city. What brought me into this museum, my passion for art, is no longer a part of my day-to-day, and I miss it. It saddens me to know that I have been working so hard, fighting to prove that I matter more than being a temp, but that nothing has really changed since I was hired.

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In conclusion
It's been incredibly difficult for me to write all of these things down, and publish them on my blog, but I think it needs to be made known that some days, I do get really sad. That while I tend to post happy, upbeat, exciting things, I'm not goofy and upbeat everyday. In fact, most days I become overwhelmed by that one overriding thought of what I will do next. And I mean really do. What will my next job be? Will I go back to school? Will I move out of my apartment? Will I continue to live in Chicago, or will I go somewhere else? And what about Spencer? What about my family? Where will we all end up?

Though I'm not entirely convinced graduate school is the answer, I do know that feeling this way for this long is unnecessary. I don't have to stay in this job, I don't have to stay in Chicago, hell, I don't even have to stay in the nonprofit arts sector. I can do anything. That's one thing my family and my relationship have taught me. I am capable of anything.

I already feel like a little weight has been lifted from penning this down. If you have any suggestions or want to offer me any advice, I'd love to hear from you. I'm sorry to post about being in a funk, but funks happen. As do ruts. And I am so ready to get out of this one.

24 May 2012

Proud Mama

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R1-01827-0019, a photo by sandycaribou on Flickr.
One of my very best friends from Knox College graduated from the Iowa Writer's Workshop with an MFA in Creative Writing. This program is one of the BEST in the country, and the year he was accepted was the MOST competitive year of applications the program had ever received.

I know it's not proper to brag, but I am so proud of Adam Soto! It is such an honor to be his friend, to read his work, and to know that he is one of the most successful artists I know. Adam, you da man.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY BROTHER AND DAD

Today is my dad's 60th birthday and my little brother's 19th birthday! I know, what are the odds of having two family members with the SAME birthday?! Just wanted to give them a shout out since I'm seeing neither of them today (sorry!). BUT we will definitely be celebrating in style this weekend!

Now, please enjoy one of my all-time-favorite pictures of the men I am related to.

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A Night to Remember

Last night was one of those warm Chicago nights, right before the heat of summer sweeps in. Moriah and I headed out for a night on the town, first for cocktails at C-View rooftop bar and then for nosh over at Ada Street. Between getting to hear Amy Winehouse's Back to Black in it's entirety on vinyl, eating a deliciously silky chicken liver mousse, soaking up great views of the city at C-View, and having dinner with two very inspiring and hardworking women who know the art of picking the perfect bottle of wine, I came home tingling! Nights like this will always be remembered in my book.


Portrait taken by the lovely Moriah

23 May 2012

Dip-Dye DIY

Dip dye DIY is how I'm solving the problem of this stained button up

I have been meaning to try the Refinery29 Dip Dye DIY for so long, and this weekend I finally scheduled the time to do it. While I did love the classic ombre look of the original shirt from the blog, I wanted something a little punchier. Also, I had a giant red stain on the sleeve of this shirt dress that was a no-go. I'm really feeling pink right now, and fell in love with this bright pink dye at Blick. So I set up the dye, and went about my other tasks on Monday - which included moving a couch into my apartment. When I returned and rinsed the shirt out, I was smitten.

MY SHIRT IS DRYING BUT I AM IN LOVE

Honestly, I'm going to start buying things with stains on them at thrift stores from here on out, because dying is fun, cheap, easy, and brings a whole new life to clothes that might be tossed. New-to-me clothes are some of my favorites. In an effort to be a little more budget conscious, I'd like to start playing with the wardrobe I already have, or at least shop around in the bargain bins a little more aggressively. With how well this project came out, I am looking forward to seeing what else I can get my hands on!

Lavender Honeycomb Infused Tequila

This weekend was incredibly productive with just the right balance of projects and relaxation. After grabbing brunch at the Sofitel with my mom, we did our grocery shopping, where I was able to pick up the supplies to start infusing my honeycomb and lavender tequila! My parents have been making this delicious concoction for years, after it first appeared in an issue of Time Out Chicago. The key here is patience - since the making it only takes a few minutes. In 10-11 days, I can drink this on the rocks or mixed into a sweet lil margarita.
  Lavender honeycomb tequila! I drink you in two weeks! TWO WEEKS IN ICE


DIRECTIONS:
In a clean, glass jar add the honeycomb, the zests of one lime and one orange, a handful of desired herbs such as lavender or lemon balm, and a 750 - milliliter bottler or reposado tequila. Leave in a cool dark place for two weeks, shaking occasionally, then strain through a cheesecloth. This honeycomb-tequila liqueur can be chilled and sipped on its own or used for a twist on a margarita by combine 1.5 ounces of silver tequila and 1.5 ounces of honeycomb liqueur with the juice of one lime. Shake, strain, and welcome the summer.

18 May 2012

This Weekend

Every Friday, Lexie has been posting what she plans to do with her weekends over on her tumblr, and I really like that simple feature. So here I am, snagging her idea!

-Refinery 29 DIY dip-dye project
-Preparing honey comb tequila
-Making more Rookie Candles
-Reading more of Love and Shame and Love
-Movie with Spencer
-Try a yoga class at WPAC
-Go to the Logan Square Farmer's Market

17 May 2012

Zeitoun


I just speed-read my way through Dave Eggers' Zeitoun, and honestly, once I started it, I couldn't put the damn book down! Zeitoun is a work of non-fiction based on the true story of the events that occurred to Abdulrahman Zeitoun before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina in September of 2004. Before reading this book, I will be honest: when I hear the words "Hurricane Katrina" two things come to mind - Kanye West's telling statement on a live national television broadcast and my own experience gutting houses in the Lower 9th Ward nearly two years after the hurricane struck.

I picked up this book, initially drawn to it by the cover - how strange, a man paddling in a canoe through a neighborhood. Then came the name. Names like this have been imprinted into our national subconscious - as Americans living in the post 9/11 world, it has been ingrained in us to suspect names like this and people who look a certain way. And it is unfortunate. How funny and strange that what drew me to this book was the way it looked and its title. The very things I try not to be aware of, I try not to make judgments of, are seeping into the way in which I consume things, including literature! But rest assured, I bought the book not just out of curiosity. I bought it because the proceeds go to the Zeitoun Foundation to help rebuild the community of New Orleans, a place I will always hold dear to my heart. And I bought it because after meeting Dave Eggers and Achek Deng of What is the What, I grew to trust him as an author and as a person trying to do good through his gift of writing.

I read this book quickly and aptly because it was good. It was informative, it was honest, it was structured beautifully, and it made me feel like I was a part of something I did not know existed. I knew some of the aftermath of Katrina, and I was generally angry about the overall response of our government and FEMA - but to know that a man (among many others) was picked up due to racial profiling, and kept in an ill-fitting maximum security prison, when so many people were in dire need of help... it just got me. I felt angry and helpless and empowered all at once while reading this. I felt better for becoming aware of this, but so saddened by what happened to Zeitoun and his family. I think everyone should read this book, if not just to support the Zeitoun Foundation, but to gain a truly unique picture of what happened in the days and months following Katrina. To know another piece of the puzzle of what happened.

Galesburg For the Weekend

I was able to steal away for a quick weekend trip to visit dear Lexie in Galesburg this past weekend, and I honestly can't remember the last time I've had a vacation this good. Between walking my favorite streets, making an impromptu trip to Iowa City, visiting the antique mall, drinking delicious coffee at Kaldi's (not the Bean Hive), and playing catch-up with Lexie and my art history professor, I couldn't have asked for a better time away from home. I came back renewed and well-rested, grateful to have found such an amazing friend in Lexie and happy that almost nothing about the old 'Burg had changed.
  Heading to Galesburg Illinois is so flat and so pretty I AM SO PROUD OF ADAM SOTO FOR GRADUATING FROM THE IOWA WRITERS WORKSHOP Hanging Lexie's art above her amazing yellow couch! Spring nails Untitled Untitled Untitled ❤❤ Untitled

1 Leaving Union Station // 2 A true Illinois Sunset // 3 Adam at Dey House after receiving his MFA // 4 Beginning Lexie's frame cluster // 5 A little spring sparkle // 6 A new-to-me cotton skirt for Iowa City // 7 Main Street, Galesburg // 8 Old Main // 9 Knox Pride // Relaxing

16 May 2012

quiet

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Things have been quiet around here, and I'm rather enjoying it. Between a lovely weekend trip to Galesburg, reading two works of non-fiction in a row, and enjoying the warmer weather, I just can't imagine sitting around blogging. I snapped this photo of Spencer after an impromptu trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo, a memorable and wonderful afternoon spent together.

09 May 2012

One A Day

I was out to lunch with a work colleague last week, and she told me that she had a friend who, to get through the dreariness of February, decided to do one new thing a day, every day, and blog about it. While I don't think I have the complete luxury to do incredibly exotic things daily, I will say that changing up my routine is definitely something I've been toying with. Everyday is different, and variety is the spice of life, as they say. So I'm trying, with patience and excitement to try one new thing every day. If it's a new stretch, a new walk home, or a new toothpaste even, I am willing to try it. Here's a quick log of the new things I've done the last few days:

1) Friday - I saw my first 3D movie! Albeit, it was Titanic, which we all know I've seen hundreds of times, but seeing a 3D movie was a HUGE step for me! I also didn't buy popcorn... which I'm pretty sure might also be a first!
2) Saturday - I used my pasta maker for the first time, and made homemade pasta for Spencer and I for lunch!
3) Sunday - I learned how to roast a chicken with my mom AND tried out the new Estee Lauder BB Cream. Both results were exquisite.
4) Monday - I tried drinking crystal light, and have to say, I didn't hate it. I also stopped by a new market on the way home.
5) Tuesday - I worked out at the new Chicago Athletic Club in Wicker Park, and have decided to switch my current location to the new location. I also chopped off half of my hair!!
6) Wednesday - I tried a new piece of equipment at the gym and a new stretch!

So far, so good. Also, what do you think of my haircut!? So far, almost no one has noticed... I suppose it's not a dramatic change BUT it was a lot of hair that I've spent the last year growing! So it's new to me!

So I cut off half of my hair. What do we think of it Internet?

05 May 2012

03 May 2012

THIRD OF MAY, 1808


Third of May 1808 
Francisco Goya, Spanish (1814) 
Oil on Canvas 
Museo Del Prado, Madrid



02 May 2012

Just Kids


I recently finished Patti Smith's Just Kids, and I cried. I cried like a baby. The last time I cried like this upon completing a book was my junior year of high school, the book was The Time Traveler's Wife. What can I say, I'm a sentimental gal. But enough about me, let's talk about Patti and Robert! What I loved about this book was that it picks up right where one of my favorites leaves off. That favorite being Pat Hackett's POPism: The Warhol Sixties. I read POPism to get my head in the game for my thesis research, and as stated in the title, the book focuses on the intricacies brewing within the social circle's of Warhol's Factory in New York in the 1960's, moving year by year, superstar to superstar.

Just Kids picks up in 1968, just as Warhol's Factory era is coming to a major shift - allowing the reader to jump right into the booth at Max's Kansas City, roam the trash filled streets of New York, eat a hot dog at Nathan's on Coney Island, and grace the halls of the Hotel Chelsea. Artists, musicians, poets, and authors pop in and out of the story, which Patti Smith weaves so poetically, yet so truthfully into a tale that feels more like a creative non-fiction than a memoir. Her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe though so complex, becomes simple - as the roles of artist and muse work interchangeably between one another. Their mutual devotion toward the pursuit of art and creation is what bonds them beyond the ties of love and friendship. Smith allows you to enter into the intimate space of she and Robert's intricate relationship, without getting too precious or too nostalgic. She offers up anecdotes perfectly spliced with Robert's beautiful black and white snapshots of the various homes they built together, and some of theworks they created. This book offers insight into the birth of Patti's rock and roll career through the journey that she takes as a poet, friend, artist, muse, and musician.

The final chapter of the book encapsulates all that is to be said of their longstanding friendship and working career. The book offers itself up as an homage to Robert, heartbreakingly ending with Patti's poetry and eulogy to Robert, finishing profoundly, quietly, and beautifully with photographs and a handwritten poem.

I highly suggest reading this book, and I hope you find it as beautiful and moving as I did.

01 May 2012

That One Time My Dad and I Grilled All Night Long

My dad recently acquired a Big Green Egg grill, which up until recently, I sort of laughed at - for the following reasons: 1) It's a green grill, 2) it's a green grill SHAPED LIKE AN EGG, 3) I laugh because I've never tried using one, and 4) I laugh because a Green Egg Grill is way out of my budget. BUT, alas, he wanted to break it in last night, by cooking as many things as possible on it, and I happily and hungrily obliged.

On the roster or should I say menu for the evening was grilled pizza, beer can chicken, flap steak, and banana nut muffins. Don't worry, we also had a salad. I brought my a-game when it came to the pizza dough, opting for Mark Bittman's classic pizza dough. It takes 2 minutes to make in a food processor, and I through in some garlic powder, oregano and basil in addition to the standard ingredients. The dough takes between an hour to two hours to rise. I watched Sex and the City while I waited, finished like three episodes, and it still wasn't done rising! As for pizza toppings, dad picked up a serious package of goodies from the Whole Foods olive bar. We had Castelvetrano olives, sweet red peppers, caramelized onions, marinated raw garlic, goat cheese, and mozzarella on our pizza.

GRILLED PIZZA MADE MY MY DAD AND I!! While we prepped the pizza, we let our beer can chicken dry out and come down to room temperature. When it was ready to hit the grill, dad rubbed it with a mixture of salt and pepper, a rotisserie rub, and put a lemon in one end and the beer in the other.
photo It smoked for an hour at 450 degrees, and came out like a work of art. The drying out of the chicken created a gorgeous bronzed skin that sealed in all of the juicy goodness of the chicken while infusing it with the most amazing smoky flavor. We dug in, and both admitted that this was the best grilled chicken we had ever had. THIS BEERCAN CHICKEN IS A WORK OF ART While the chicken roasted, I made us two delightful little salads with anything I could get my hands on in the fridge. Mixed greens, micro-greens, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and kalamata olives, topped with a ponzu vinaigrette concocted by my father. We eat healthy things too Then, dad adjusted the temperature of the grill, switched the rack, and put down the flap steak he'd picked up. Apparently a flap steak is different from a flank steak, and my dad's new favorite cut. It's a little chewy, so he cut against the grain which made it more manageable to chew! He marinated it in a garlic and soy sauce, which I reduced on the stove as an au jus to drizzle on the final cut. Flap steak grilled to perfection And for dessert, we had reheated some homemade banana chocolate chip muffins... you guessed it, on the grill. photo (1) Dad sent me home with an awesome array of leftovers. I'm having a curried chicken salad sandwich for lunch today made with some of that delicious smokey chicken!
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