Monday, February 21, 2011

Honoring Presidents' Day

Across the nation, people honor Presidents' Day with a day off of work or school. Some even enjoy big shopping discounts offered at shopping malls and car dealerships. 

This year I am honoring Presidents' Day by:
1. Going to work.
2. Being slightly angry that the post office is closed when I'm in dire need of stamps!
3. Snacking on a sweet treat for President George Washington's 279th birthday.
4. Reflecting upon which teacher I can blame for knowing next to nothing about the following Presidents:

Whether you're relaxing at home or heading into work, have a wonderful Presidents' Day!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rainy Sunday Afternoon

Sometimes we all need a rainy day. Rainy days provide us a great excuse to stay in bed with a good book and warm blankets all afternoon. 

I love the soothing sound of rain hitting the rooftop and watching droplets cling to my window panes.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

"...people are always speculating-- why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient" (153).

Last month I embarked upon reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The novel has graced its name on my reading list for years. In high school I read an excerpt from the book about "conking". "Conking" refers to the chemical process of relaxing or straightening a black person's kinky/curly hair. Malcolm's reflection after his first "conk" shocked me:

"This was my first really big step toward self-degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man's hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are inferior-- and white people "superior" -- that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try to look 'pretty' by white standards" (56-7).

At seventeen, having "conked" my hair for eleven years, this passage made me question for the first time the process my family deemed necessary for my beauty. Malcolm's unapologetic reflection planted a seed within me. In college, reading bell hooks and James Baldwin further influenced my ideas about my identity as a black woman and my hair. At age twenty I finally cut off all my hair and grew an afro. Almost four years later, I still rock an afro. I believe cutting my hair is one of the single greatest things I've ever done.

Seven years after my initial introduction to Malcolm's autobiography, I finally sat down to read the book in its entirety. The book chronicles Malcolm's life from childhood to death (his tragic assassination is recorded beautifully in Alex Haley's epilogue). Malcolm's honesty and candid accounts of his life are truly engrossing. He speaks to many questions I have about my identity as well as politics, economics and race relations in the United States. It is stunning how many of his insights are still undeniably relevant.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of a candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."  - Buddha

Wishing everyone a wonderful Valentine's Day! Whether you're single or in a relationship, this day is a great reminder to grow in our love for ourselves & others.

Image courtesy of

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Indoor Bliss

Winter in Chicago can drive anyone crazy. Between Snowmaggedon and recent wind chills in the negatives, I am now impatiently waiting for spring to arrive. I'm hoping because the groundhog did not see his shadow this year, we will be blessed with balmy 40 and 50 degree days during the beginning of March instead of mid May. In the meantime, happiness must be found from sources beyond the weather. The photos below display my adventures indoors, finding bliss when the weather bites!

Lincoln Square Lanes is now the oldest bowling alley in Chicago, due to the closing of other small operations. Charming is the word I would use to describe this gem. Old arcade games, reasonably priced drinks, and the "keep your own score" cards will definitely bring me back. Shout out to Shelia, a friendly bartender who works Tuesday and Thursday nights. Thank you for contributing to our enjoyable evening!

Food @ Small Bar + BFF = Love
My best friend Hayley visited for a few days. We landed at Small Bar in Ukrainian Village one evening. Hayley ordered the BLT with sweet potato fries. I indulged in Calamari. The calamari was so delicious, I may rethink my decision to take fish and sea food out of my diet again...

Super Bowl XLV.
Super Bowl Sunday might as well be declared a national holiday. Despite enduring the Black Eyed Peas' less than thrilling half time performance, Green Bay renewed my spirit with their triumph. As a native Clevelander it's always nice to see the Steelers lose.

Pinball at Skylark.
Its been over a decade since I've laid my hands on a pinball machine, and my skills reflected this fact. Yet, playing a few rounds was quite pleasurable while taking in the striking images of Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Parking Spot Dibs

Whether you are for or against "parking spot dibs", individuals asserting their stance in favor of the Chicago tradition are everywhere in the wake of “snowmaggedon” (check out photos below). Stools, crates and even lamp shades decorate the streets as I trudge through mounds of snow.

If you aren't familiar with the tradition, let me get you up to speed. "Parking spot dibs" allows Chicagoans to place furniture in a public street parking spot that an individual has cleared of snow. When the individual leaves she will be assured a place to park upon her return.

As a full time pedestrian, who relies on public transportation, I've never given the tradition much thought. Over the years, snowy days accompanied by furniture in the street served as entertainment. Today, I realize the issue is no laughing matter for some individuals. Groups like Chair-Free Chicago are urging law enforcement, politicians, and civilians to actively enforce the law that bans the tradition. TimeOut Chicago covered the issue in a recent article entitled, "Dibs debate". The short article presents both sides of the argument through interviews of two civilians.

Despite reading the article, I'm not sure where I stand on this debate. My hope is for people to remain civil despite the madness of parking around 5 and 6 feet snowdrifts!

Chicago Snowmaggedon 2011

I began to experience Snowmaggedon 2011 at 2:00pm on Tuesday. Walking down North Ave near Dearborn, I was nearly blinded by icy snow as I headed east down the street. Later, I made it to the South Loop only to be dismisssed from my job early. I tried hopping in a cab, but the cab's back wheel drive didn't allow us to make it more than 1 block before almost slamming into 2 buses and an SUV. Fearing for my life I kindly told the driver to let me out. I jumped on the Red line train, a much safer choice, to meet my co-worker at a the Grand stop armed with a Jeep with 4 wheel drive.

Hungry, we wondered what establishment downtown would be open. We passed many places with small signs in the window stating they closed early due to weather. We tried our luck at one of our usual spots--Timothy O'Tools. O'Tools was open for business and extremely busy. We enjoyed Nachos and beers waiting for rush hour traffic to die down before heading back out into the blizzard.

Driving west to my apartment in Ukrainian Village was quite the trip. Although we faired much better than people driving on Lakeshore Drive or heading out to the "burbs"-- we saw many struggling motorists and pedestrians as we flew by in the Jeep. Even a Chicago Police SUV was fish tailing down the street!

Finally cozy in my apartment away from the elements, lightening flashed through the sky accompanied by little rumbles of thunder. What odd weather!! Wednesday morning I woke up to the sounds of people digging out their cars and clearing sidewalks. The photo above is the mess people have been contending with post-snowmaggedon. Being carless in the city has never felt so good!

Despite having to head to work for a short while on Wednesday evening, I was happy to spend the majority of the day nestled in my bed, eating snacks, responding to my parent's voicemails with concerns of my survival, and catching up on some reading. I hope Snowmaggedon 2011 brought everyone exciting stories and a nice lazy day off!!!

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