27 June 2014

This Weekend

The theme of this weekend is hanging out with women who inspire me and who also happen to be bloggers. Between Lexie, Rose, and Kelsey, I can already feel my cheeks beginning to burn from all the smiling I will be doing in their company! Not to mention the Pride Parade, which is apparently marriage themed, because gay marriage was finally legalized in this fine Midwestern state! The above photo is from the time Adolfo invited me to dance like a maniac on the Holiday Inn float! Back in 2010! SO MUCH JOY!

- Going on an architecture boat tour this afternoon
- Working out
- Making this potato salad
- Reading more of Naked By the Window (which I can't put down!)
- Lexie time!!!!
- Dinner at Au Cheval
- Gay Pride Parade
- Celebratory drinks with Rose at Kelsey's event!

19 June 2014

In Memoriam: Charles Barsotti

On Monday, we lost one of our great living illustrators, Charles Barsotti. He'd been working for the New Yorker playing with line and humor for the last fifty years, making readers smile, chuckle, and as Bob Mankoff said best, drew cartoons that hugged us back. As an artist, he brought to the world a sense of whimsy, expertly employing simple beautiful strokes that had the ability to convey so much with a clean, pure, minimal style. In addition to being a talented artist, he was the husband, father, and grandfather to friends who I hold near and dear to my heart, and my thoughts are with them. I distinctly remember scanning every issue of the New Yorker for the familiar name, hoping to see one of his charming drawings feeling proud to be close to his family.

Charles, while I never knew you, I want you to know that you touched so many, and I feel lucky to have been able to see your illustrations week after week. You will continue to make the world smile through your legacy of work.


Via the New Yorker
Via the New Yorker
Via the New Yorker
Via the New Yorker

17 June 2014

On Having a Tattoo

Rose recently wrote a post musing on the exact tattoo she would get, should she ever break the promise to her mother (the one where she swore to never get a tattoo). She knows what it would be, where it would be, and why it would be significant to have engraved on her body forever and always. But a promise is a promise, so rather than ink it up, she blogged about it. And my response to her beautifully written post is to blog about my own foray into my life as a tattooed Jewess.

Here I am in high school, sporting a very classy fake tattoo
I have long been afraid of needles, not to mention I have some strange commitment issues (saddled with a massive fear of change). For most of my life, I was known as a biter and a kicker should you approach me with any sort of skin-breaking device. Elementary school mandated TB tests, nope. Blood work to check my high cholesterol having genetics, as if. Novocain, are you kidding me with this? So why it occurred to me to allow someone to slowly drag a needle across my skin for more than 10 minutes comes as a surprise to many of my friends and family.

Senior prom, I was all about the Virgin Mary fake tattoo
But what comes as an even bigger surprise, outside of me being terrified of anything that is classified as mildly painful, is that culturally speaking, I should not have a tattoo. I was born and raised of the Jewish faith. I attended Sunday school (yes, we have Sunday school too), Hebrew school on Tuesdays (or schul as some folks call it). The year of 2001 was spent being carted from bar and bat mitzvah, to bar and bat mitzvah party, as well as spending a grueling amount of time studying the Torah. While most kids my age had their Walkmen playing Savage Garden, Robyn, and the Backstreet Boys, I toted around a barely-retro cassette player of my Torah portion, sung and recorded for me by my synagogue's cantor. I practiced, I toiled, I even had to call my cantor from overnight camp for my weekly bat mitzvah practice session because that is how important this event was to my family.

Here I am repping the Jewish Club table my freshman year of college. 
And in terms of Jewish doctrine, our traditions are sacred, as are our bodies. The human form is in a way, the likeness of G-d in the form of man, so it is strictly forbidden to deface the body in anyway. Piercings are a sort of gray area, since they can be removed and healed. Tattoos are off limits, and so permanent in fact, that a Jewish person with a tattoo is not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Me dressed as Bjork in the swan dress, with her tattoo drawn in Sharpee on my arm.
So here I am, a Jewish girl with two millennia of religious doctrine to follow, a familial cultural history closely tied to these ideologies, and a fear of needles. Why on earth do I have a tattoo?

Truth be told, I went back and forth on the tattoo front for years. While I was raised with a religious faith... nothing was ever forced on me. But deep down there was an unspoken truth that we just didn’t have tattoos. Then my parents divorced. My whole sense of family, my idea of wholeness was fractured and suddenly I started to think of myself as an autonomous unit. I could continue to live at home, following unspoken rules, remaining a dutiful daughter. Or I could do what I wanted.

My tattoo in healing mode
A year (to the week) after my parents formally decided to split up, at the age of 23, I tattooed ))<>(( on my left shoulder, at the tattoo parlor in my college town where so many of my friends got their “big mistake” tattoos. I remember it hurting just a little, but that the point of the tattoo was that it was a signifier for me. It meant I’d gotten through a shit year. That rules are meant to be broken. That marriage isn’t forever, neither is the idea of the nuclear family. It meant I was doing something to my body that I could control, and the best part was, it was symmetrical. It looked the same to me in the mirror as it did to my outside viewers.

T-shirt caption via Redbubble
There’s a scene in the movie my tattoo is from, Me and You and Everyone We Know, in which the mom, who is going through a separation, is brushing her teeth in a giant t-shirt with the following words written on them backwards:

I am a precious, wondrous, special, unique, divine, rare, valuable, whole, sacred, total, complete, entitled, worthy, and deserving person

Her soon-to-be-ex-husband walks in and marvels at how he always hated the shirt, because he couldn’t read it, to which she replies, “It’s self-affirming.” And that’s what my tattoo is for me. It’s self affirming. It’s a reminder of the pain I pushed through, emotional and physical - especially during the year of my parents' separation and subsequent divorce. Of how I would “never get a tattoo” but then I did, and it’s still there frontwards and backwards, keeping me company always. Back and forth, forever.

12 June 2014

Free Art School at UIC

Art School Confidential, by Daniel Clowes via helenharrison.net
I'm sharing this because, this might be one of the most wonderful FREE things happening in Chicago this Summer, and it needs to be spread. UIC received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in turn is using the funds to offer free art and art history courses open to the public all summer long, all over the city, with some amazing artists, teachers, mentors, and lecturers.

We believe that everyone is an artist, the atmosphere of the school will be playful, but it embraces a cornerstone of democracy — the right to artistic expression and cultural rights for all people.” - Lisa Lee, director of the UIC School of Art & Art History.

Artists and programming include:

Alberto Aguilar
An Extraordinary Family Art Adventure with a Surprise
August 2 or August 3, 2:00 p.m. to 5:00
400 South Peoria at UIC Art & Exhibition Hall

Christine Sun Kim
A Choir of Glances
July 15 and 16 at 3p.m. to 5, each workshop followed by a public performance at 5:30
Chicago Cultural Center, Garland Room

Dan Peterman
City Mouse Country Mouse
July 19th, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Convene at 8 a.m. in Millennium Park, and take the train from Millennium Station to Manilow Sculpture Park

Theaster Gates
Soul Music and Soul Sculpture
August 4 at 7 p.m. to 10
Theaster Gates Studio (address will be given to attendees)

Krista Franklin
Afro-Surrealism and the Contemporary Cultural Production
August 2 at 2 p.m. to 5
106 Henry Hall, 929 West Harrison Street

Faheem Majeed
“Seat of Power” Sculpture Class
July 19 and 20, 2 p.m. to 5
400 South Peoria, Sculpture Studio, Floor 4

Elise Archias
“What the Hell is Contemporary Art Right Now?”
July 6th at 2 p.m. to 3 or July 8th at 6 p.m. to 7
Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago Avenue

Riva Lehrer
Ghost Bodies Portraiture Workshop
July 17 and 18, (this is a two-day workshop) 2 p.m. to 5
400 South Peoria, UIC Art and Exhibition Hall, 4th Floor Sculpture Hall

Hannah Higgins
Croissant, CafĂ© au Lait, and Hausmann’s ‘City of Light’
July 12, 9 a.m. to 11
Residents Dining Hall Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 South Halsted

Jennifer Reeder
Feminist Parking Lot
July 12, 2 p.m. to 5
400 South Peoria, 5th Floor, The Great Space.

To register: uicfreeartschool.wordpress.com

11 June 2014

Inspiration, Summah, Mood Boards

Oh Dear Drea's posts on Hula Hooping and How to Have a Good Life Without Spending a Lot of Money
Have a Summah tee from Tee Spring / the mind of Howard Kremer
You can fail at what you don't want, so you might as 
well take a chance on doing what you love. - Jim Carrey

Tavi Gevinson's pure happiness on her last day of high school.
Emma Chapman's post on Changing Your Dreams (and letting old dreams go)
This giant photo blow-up DIY from SF Girl By the Bay
This kitchen, with it's concrete counters and picnic table style dining via A Beautiful Mess
Everything Lorde, all day and all night, but especially "Ribs"

"The key to this is “no” - no to people who don’t live the kind of life you want reflected back on you; no to nights out that might be more productively be spent in; no to the life that society dictates to you; no to the life well-meaning loved ones dictate to you; no to extra cheese; no to the third snooze button; no to the first alarm; no to okcupid dates with guys who categorize themselves as “really nice and respectful of women” (if you have to say it…); no to inhibitions; no to reputations; no to another couple of years hovering above minimum wage; no to being the inverse of what you were, just to see if that fixes things." - Emma Marie Martin

This article about a woman who owns 305 things, and lives in her friend's backyard.
A mid-year check-in on my goals list
Steigl Radler, my drink of choice via the Purveyor
This video asking for a change in a mascot name. 
A change that needs to happen for the betterment of this country.

09 June 2014

Weekend Getaway at Starved Rock

For those of you who know me IRL, I will not strike you as the kind of person who "goes camping". I enjoy the feeling of a freshly made bed, I enjoy doing laundry and washing dishes, I am deeply tied to my creature comforts, I'm a bit of a homebody, and there's something about my blood that makes me the number one target for bug bites. But this past Friday, Andrew and I loaded up the car, tuned in just in time for This American Life, and made our way to Starved Rock National Park for a weekend of sleeping in tents, forgetting about personal space (and personal hygiene), drinking growlers and howlers of craft beers, noshing on dogs and brats, breaking in his new cast iron skillet, and braving each other as well as the rain for 15 hours in a two person tent.

We returned to town smelling like wood chips and campfire, finishing each others' sandwiches sentences, and though we were "camping lite" I feel like I finally "get" what camping is all about. It's relaxing with just the right amount of work. The challenges promote interesting solutions. We didn't have a way to boil water, so I opted to make us cold brew coffee in my travel French press. Potatoes were meant to be cooked in bacon fat. Stories from my bat mitzvah were meant to be told by flashlight in a tent as the rain bore down on us, because they truly were that scary. And there really is nothing like a bowl of freshly cut fruit after two days of subsisting on chips, dogs, beer, and s'mores.

And now, a count
S'mores consumed: 5-6
Dogs consumed: 4
Waterfalls visited: 2
Books read: 0
Crosswords read: 0
Emails responded to: 0
Showers: 0
Bags of beef jerky consumed: 1
Led Zeppelin songs in the car: 2
Embarrassing stories exchanged: too many to count

Crossing the Illinois River (I think?), I was too busy taking pictures and selfies.
This is the face of someone beginning their weekend.
We arrived at the campsite too late to purchase wood, so we went to Jack's This is the view from Jack's car-port.
Buying wood from Jack's Camp Store.
I didn't actually start this while on the trip, but isn't it so fitting?

Making sandwiches for our hiking adventure at Starved Rock.
Mmmmm thick cut bacon
Pro tip: Mix potatoes, pepper, and onion in a bag with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Cook said potatoes in bacon fat.
Try not to burn yourself, and always wear camouflage. 
First time cooking over a camp fire! Scrambled eggs!
Breakfast is served!
Let's eat!
Just being a hiking champ.
Just hanging out in a canyon, walking to a waterfall, NBD.
Legit chasin' waterfalls.
Obligatory beef jerky break at a waterfall.
But seriously all we did was take glamour shots of me.
Glamour shots of me AND nature.
Glamour shots and action shots.

How awesome is his outfit? His socks have ducks on them, naturally.

06 June 2014

This Weekend


Andrew and I are headed to Starved Rock this evening for a weekend of camping, crossword puzzles, hiking, and solitude. In typical Sandy-fashion, I've made many lists, packed in a very precise manner, and probably am bringing one outfit too many. It's so strange to think that I've had the Orange is the New Black premiere on my calendar for something like nine months, with the intent of holing up and binge watching this weekend, but instead I'm unplugging, breathing fresh air, eating all of the hot dogs, and experiencing quietude. 

Have a wonderful weekend, I'll be back with stories and bug bites.

03 June 2014

Yummy Summer Recipe

Is anyone else as hopelessly obsessed with the June issue of Bon Appetit? Filled with photos of melty popsicles, juicy fruits, golden pies and crisps, I have read the thing cover to cover and already cooked out of it twice! This weekend I made the Hattie B's coleslaw recipe to remind me of Tennessee and the arrival of summer. I've slowly been doling it out to myself - the secret ingredient, celery seeds, make the dish delish.

Last night, I wanted pasta, but I wanted it quick and uncomplicated because for reals, it was a long overdue laundry night. I remember reading a quick and easy recipe for Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Anchovy Butter, and I thought, why not? This recipe was a no-brainer, took basically zero effort, and still tasted amazing. I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen already (yes I always have anchovies on hand), and in no more than 20 minutes, I was eating delicious pasta with mozzarella. Also, leftovers.

I used rotini, but the type of pasta you use is up to you via Bon Appetit Magazine

  • ½ pound spaghetti 
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter 
  • 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained 
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced 
  • 2 pounds medium tomatoes, quartered 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Chopped tender herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, and/or chives)
  1. Cook spaghetti; drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook anchovies and garlic, stirring often, until anchovies are broken down and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. 
  3. Add tomatoes; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until falling apart, 8–10 minutes. 
  4. Toss in pasta and reserved pasta cooking liquid; cook until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Toss in herbs.

02 June 2014

Make: 30, 31

I closed out Make Month with two consecutive concerts. The first was Jason Moran with the Kenwood Academy jazz band and Theaster Gates at Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The second show was Paul Baribeau at Township. Both were wonderful and moving experiences, each very different from one another.

Jason Moran taking the stage with the Kenwood high school jazz ensemble
When I heard that Theaster Gates was participating in a performance at CSO with a jazz musician my dad loves, it seemed like the perfect fit. We agreed that we must attend the concert, knowing that it was going to be an awesome and unique performance. My dad was in the inaugural year the Kenwood Academy jazz ensemble formed, and he also loves Jason Moran - a creative and innovative jazz pianist. Theaster Gates designed the set, and helped orchestrate the performance as a whole, having teamed up with the likes of Moran to create a musical experience unlike anything I have ever had the privilege to hear. 

One of the more memorable moments was when Moran ascended a large chair contraption on the left of the stage, his feel dangling over the edge, playing an almost inaudible musical box amplified by a single microphone. A single spotlight cloaked him with an eerie light, while Gates sat at his feet, crooning the words "There's blood on my hands," a haunting tune that shook me to my core, recalling recent violence in the news and in my city. But then, when the music box came to a close, the entire ensemble began to play, recalling the melody with a fullness that brought the tinny tune to life. 

Moran's compositions highlighted the range and talents of the high school ensemble, playing off of the formal jazz structure taught at the high school level, as well as embracing the marching band and drum line aesthetic. Some songs were deep, dark, rich and soulful. Others were simply funny, with a poppy catchy riff echoed through the two basses, the multiple styles of piano playing, and the full jazz band. Watching the students perform, seeing Gates' space come to life, watching Moran dance from instrument to instrument in his Adidas - you could just feel the energy wafting through the space of theater. 

But there was also a deeper undertone to the energy - that of loss. Two young men who were to be part of this once in a lifetime performance lost their lives to gun violence in recent months and weeks in Chicago. The loss of these two individuals was felt not only in the introductory moment of silence we participated in, but in the sad and soulful songs, in the darkness and quiet, and in those brief moments of silence between the music.

Paul Baribeau being my hero in his little shorts
The Paul Baribeau concert was a complete 180 from Jason Moran on Friday. Just one dude, one guitar, and very literal meaningful lyrics in a room full of die-hard fans. We screamed and sang in unison, some of us with eyes closed, sharing in our mutual adoration for this humble funny human who like us, has felt hurt at one point or another. This was the third or fourth time I'd seen Paul, but this time felt different. He had a relaxed energy, the tension that I often felt surrounding him had been lifted. He seems to have done a lot of healing and growing in the last few years, which was incredibly moving to witness. I'm so glad I've gotten to know him through his music, and that I can be part of the strange and small community that has attached ourselves to him.