Monday, December 15, 2008

My newest nephew.

This is Lorenzo.

Ready for the first day of puppy preschool!

He was technically my Christmas present to my sister Annie, although he entered our lives just a couple of days after Thanksgiving. His shelter name was Twitch, which Annie quickly changed to the more majestic and fitting Lorenzo de Medici, after the great Renaissance patron of the arts. I think he lives up to his name. Just as the original made his way into so many of the paintings and murals of the great Italian masters, so has our little man made his way into our hearts! Obviously it wasn't hard for me, I've wanted a dog my entire life, but this doggie has some major power. I have never in my entire life seen my mother pet a dog, and she actually willingly held him on her lap and fed him, while my dad slips him meat under the table!

He's our little man!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


This has totally not set in yet.  I am SO excited about this election, the climate, and Obama in general.  I could barely tear myself away from the TV this morning to go to work, and when I walked in a group of people were standing near the elevator and we all looked at each other and cheered.  

Yesterday was an amazing day-- after I voted, Shannon and I drove to Indiana to do some final day canvassing for Obama since that state was so crucial... we got back and had people over to watch the returns, and Brian got a ticket to the election party in Grant Park!  I really wish I could have gone, but by that point we already had people over.   It must have been incredible.  I watched the speech and cried.  

And Annie made amazing food, of course: kale and prosciutto soup, salad, homemade bread, and to top it all off, the most American of apple pies!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Boston, etc.

Unrelated to this post:  I just devoured almost an entire bag of dried mango.  It was the special kind that I love, the no-sugar-added stuff from Trader Joe's.  I made the mistake of bringing what was left of the large bag to work, thinking I could save what I didn't eat.  Who was I kidding?  And while we're on the subject of dried mango, on the way home from the store the other night when Brian and I were eating it in the car, I had a particularly tough piece and when I finally succeeded in tearing off a chunk with my teeth, my hand flew to the side and the sharp edge of the mango actually scratched my face.  Mango casualty.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

I raced in  my very first Head of the Charles Regatta this year, the biggest rowing race of its kind in the world!  The weekend before last I flew to Boston and got to stay with my cousin Dan and his wife Cedar, who are the best couple ever and are 7 months pregnant!  They have a beautiful condo in Belmont that they have clearly taken their time with-- the decor fits just perfectly in the space (older, with hardwood floors and awesome trim), and they remodeled their kitchen themselves.  Anyway, it was the perfect homey place to hang out between the craziness of the Charles events.

And it is definitely crazy.  Hundreds and hundreds of people race there... so many, in fact, that each individual is only allowed to row in a single event.  It was a curvy course full of bridges and one 180-degree turn, not so easy for a gal in a single.  I practiced on Friday afternoon and it was really exciting-- I'd never rowed on the Charles before and to row past so many super old, well-established boathouses was super cool.  I then had to wait the whoooole weekend to race, since my event wasn't until Sunday afternoon.  I spent lots of time on the Weeks Footbridge cheering on teammates, including my dad, who looked great in his double.  I had plenty of time to wander around Harvard Square, though I wish I'd had more time to walk the whole city, cause it's one of my favorites.  I got to have noodles with Schutt and talk about theatre and life stages and relationships, and I wish we lived in the same place!  I strolled and caught up with Paul right before my event, and he was semi-successful in taking my mind off of the incredible nervous feeling I had as the wind got stronger and stronger... and finally I was on the water!  My dad and Fran helped me launch and the 5k row up to the start line felt like forever.  It felt good, however, to finally be on the water instead of thinking about it obsessively.  I knew that my race was a super competitive event full of ridiculously fast women, all of who probably knew the course better than me, so my expectations in terms of placement weren't super high-- I just wanted to row a good race and look decent going past the crowds!  Rowing up there I felt like a lost little kid on the first day of school...petrified, yet super excited.  The basin where the start line is was also the place with the roughest weather, so they started us quickly and I, unfortunately, scraped my oar on the railroad bridge at the start.  That caused me to almost completely stop, which of course helped three rowers pass me almost immediately.  Ironically, I steered a great course from then on!  I felt like I couldn't actually put a lot of power into the strokes because I was constantly worried about steering and turning, but I didn't get passed by everyone (one of my measures of success), and nobody saw me make any major mistakes!  If you really want to know what my placement was, you can look at the race website.  I'm event 44.  I finished, ahem, nowhere near the front. ;)

Moi, heading through the Weeks Bridge and halfway done!

The point is, I am no longer a Head of the Charles newbie, and next year I know exactly what to look for and how to prepare.  And I know also to get there several days before and stay several days after, cause Boston saw not nearly enough of me this time!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Those of you who are still loyal readers (why? I am a terrible blogger!) are probably family and friends who already know this, but just in case...

Brian and I got engaged!

Happiness and a ring pop.

It was perfect. On September 5th I was frantically packing for a weekend in Michigan when he came home from work and mysteriously led me to my parents' backyard, where there was a picnic blanket and champagne. He proposed in the most beautiful way and I accepted (duh), after which he presented me with a pink plastic ring pop, a placeholder of sorts, until we could go looking together and find something perfect that I loved.

But wait! There's more! That night I was only told we'd be going "somewhere" at 9pm. We arrived at Juicy Wine Co., and on the lovely roof deck were both of our families, ready to toast us with champagne and cheese, and amazing pumpkin cookies ordered specially by Brittnye from One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn. And just as I was remarking that One Girl is right near Susie's house in Cobble Hill, who should walk in but Susie herself!! Unbelievable. We had a great night with our families, and I thought it couldn't get better. Just then, of course, it did. Early the next morning I was surprised by the arrival of Abbey, from the opposite coast. She, Susie, Annie, Brian and I went on our first ring shopping trip all together, and I couldn't imagine a more special group to have there.

Our moms were wearing the same shirt by accident. Isn't that weird?

The week continued... as an additional surprise, Brian planned a little extended weekend trip to Mexico City, a place I've always wanted to go. We hit museums, Teotihuacan, tons of restaurants, and even more neighborhoods. And when we got back to Chicago, I found the perfect ring: an Art Deco antique from the 30s.

Can you even believe all that?! I'm so lucky.

Plans for the actual big day are in the works, and we found a venue, which means we can chill a bit and just fantasize about possibilities for just a little while longer. I'll post more details when we've chosen an official date...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Remember me?  I'm back from Insane Six Weeks of Summer '08!  It was a good one, a nice mix of your everyday summer rowing competitions seasoned with a little improv study and topped with a birthday-time family reunion.  I don't know why I say I'm "back," because not much has ended except for races. But still.

In other news, I got an iPhone!  Holy crap, I know.  It was an AMAZING birthday present from Bridget, Bill, Patti, and Brian, and it has definitely changed my life.  But not in the annoying way, where I always look at it and not at real people.  At least I think.  Instead, it helps me keep up with correspondence and items that I would otherwise not get to during the day and have to deal with late at night (like I'm doing now), and also allows me to not have to call Brian once a day to ask him to go into my email and find some essential bit of information that I neglected to write down.  And, it has GPS.  GPS, people!  For some reason this blows my mind, probably because I've experienced GPS very very few times before.  Like, there is actually a dot that represents me on a map created by an object in space.  And it helped us find our race course in New Jersey like seven different times.   Unreal.

That's all.  I don't talk about many things other than rowing and iPhones these days, it seems. At least I'm talking about something.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Am I alive? Yes.

It's been a long and extremely busy few weeks. First, my organization put on the first Chicago Mexican and Latino Book Fair, which was a great success and a ton of work. However, because of the event I had the pleasure of hosting several amazing artists from Latin America. First, this woman stayed with me for a weekend, and she was incredible. A children's book author, storyteller, singer, and social lecturer from Mexico, she entertained me for two days with stories, hilarious wordplays, and songs. Literally. She pulled out the guitar and sang for me in my apartment. And after that, we lent the apartment to four members of Teatro Trono, an incredible youth and street theater/arts group from Bolivia and my favorite performers ever. People at work kept thanking me for driving them around and making sure they got fed and stuff like that, but it was a serious privilege to go to different schools and workshops and watch them mesmerize kids and adults alike.

So there was that. And THEN, it was Memorial Day weekend and the whole sculling (rowing) team went up to our teammate's beautiful house in Michigan on the St. Joseph river. We rowed for five hours each day, cooked a lot, ate a ton, napped, got massages, nursed our hand blisters and sore muscles, watched World Championship rowing races on DVD and generally chillaxed as much as we could while still being competitive. I seriously did not want to leave, ever.

Double race pieces...

Now I'm trying to get back to that long lost place where I cooked the veggies that we get delivered each week and actually spend time in the apartment. But it's like 90 degrees, which makes me not want to be inside with our dinky fan. So we'll see.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fennel and apples and chives, oh my!

Things I haven't been doing much of: sleeping, blogging.

Things I have been doing a lot of: rowing, improv, COOKING!

Let's talk about that last item, shall we? Okay! The story behind it is, we joined a CSA with Brittnye a few weeks ago. If you're not familiar with CSAs, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and when you join one, you regularly receive a box full of veggies and fruit from local farms. You're supporting local food production, in this case organic, and you get whatever is in season, whether it be root vegetables, apples, or garlic. In our case, we actually get home delivery once a week, and the produce comes from several local farms, so we always get lots of different stuff.

This has revolutionized my life.

I was already trying to cook more, but this... this is special. I was unprepared for the joy I would feel at peeking out the back door and seeing that non-descript gray cooler box waiting for me. I pulled out the surprises one by one, gazing at them, smelling them, feeling their weight in my hands. Fennel! Leeks! Carrots! Kale! Everything I sliced emitted amazing aromas, even the shiitake mushrooms. If you know me at all, you know that I normally stay far, far away from any type of mushroom. I've tried to like them, I really have. But in this case, I didn't have to try. Those babies had me at "oh, what's in this little paper bag?" They looked so fresh and were so aromatic that I promptly made a fennel-mushroom sautee and loved every bite of it.

And it's only gotten better from there. Between in-depth gmail chat conversations with my foodie sister, emails/phone calls with Brittnye (Brian's foodie sister), and some quality time with Marcella Hazan, a sort of magic began. The thrill of seeing what I could do with what had arrived on the back porch--knowing the quality of everything was always great--became addicting. Roasted beets, leek pesto, the best freaking green beans ever... I think I'm in love.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Oh wait, I have a blog too?

Yeesh, sorry about that. Busy couple of weeks, much less time spent with computer! A few things I've been up to (#1 is the reason I didn't use the computer at work, and #2 is the reason I'm always too exhausted to do anything once I get home):

1. The Fourth Grade Play that Would Never Die finally kicked the bucket. Thank god. I didn't think I could spend any more time telling 9-year-olds to speak up. For those who don't know, it really doesn't matter, but this was the culmination of a drama residency I did at a couple of schools with fourth graders. Of course, everyone wants to see a "product," so we had to do something and the whole process kind of took forever, with every day the last week becoming a big effort. Still, the performances were cute, and the kids really amazed me with their effort and ability to memorize lines and blocking. And the parents got pictures and video, which is ultimately what's important, not actually be able to hear the lines, right?

2. It may have been a week ago, but I believe I'm still feeling the effects of Physical Challenge Weekend 2008. It all started with the fact that about a month ago I started rowing again, a lot, with a new intense coach. I didn't plan it that way, but last weekend I ended up having to do a 6km erg (rowing machine) test on Saturday and then the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday. It really wasn't all that dramatic, but I was proud of myself for never puking throughout the whole weekend and getting through both events better than I expected! Since then we've been able to finally start rowing on the water, so it's still taking up most mornings...

That's what I've been up to, pretty normal stuff. Be back with more exciting things (hopefully) very soon!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cold feet?

Is it appropriate to wear flats yet?

Cause it's like 42 degrees, but it's so darn sunny.

I don't think I can bear to put boots on one more time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A project.

You know how there are some blogs that you get in the habit of reading, just because you stumbled upon them? Well I have a few of those. There's one in particular that I love, the blog of a friend of a friend (actually the friend of a sibling's ex-boyfriend, if we want to get technical). It's just a regular blog, pretty because she has web design experience, and I really like her writing. After I read her posts I often find that I begin composing posts in my head with a similar voice, which of course never come out like I wish they would. I think there were a few times when I almost even met her in person, but I never actually did. Several times I've wanted to comment on her posts, but something stopped me...maybe I liked being a secret reader, or maybe I just didn't want to startle her.  Silly, I know.

Anyway, I've decided to rip off her new idea, which is part group project, part blog challenge:  inviting readers of the blog and friends to submit photos, self-portraits to be exact, with the theme "Your Environment." That can mean whatever you want it to mean. The catch? Photos should be taken with either webcam or old-school digital equipment only: think PhotoBooth, plain digital cam, or even cell phone. No altering of images at all except to add borders.

For example:

Self Portrait with Salad Bowl

Feel free to either add your photos to the Flickr group here, or post them on your own blog.  Or hell, send them to me and I'll post them for you if you want!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clear air.

It's hard to blog every day when you're in the middle of nowhere with not even cell phone service, let alone internet. Which is where I was. For a few days.

On the weekend we drove like a million hours to Hayward, Wisconsin, where Brian's friend's family has a house.  It's one of those places that's decorated with images of frolicking bears, moose silhouettes, and old-timey snowshoes.  The whole area was blanketed in white, and we spent our time playing games and cooking in the warmth, as well as snowmobiling (or "snow machining," as Susie says Alaskans say), across the vast, frozen lake. I was as freaked out as my mom would be at first ("On a frozen lake?!"), but it took me about three minutes to become accustomed to the air on my face, the bouncing over treacherous bumps, and the high speeds. I would have called them breakneck speeds, except that when we got back Brian made my wussy ass get off the snowmobile so he could take it, alone, up to speeds of 100 mph. I guess I wasn't quite as daredevil as I thought. But whatever! Anything that requires a full face helmet (see photo) is adventurous in my book.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Yuriy was the first person to ever teach me how to hold an oar handle, when I was 15, and I knew him for eleven years after that.

He taught me about form and power, discipline and endurance. He was the best motivator I ever encountered, and an incredible personality. A former Soviet women's rowing coach from the Ukraine, he knew how to guide people gradually yet constantly, pushing them past their thresholds and making them realize their strength, while at the same time making them laugh. He helped me carry my boat to the dock every day (even though I should have done it myself), and when he patted my back and said "good girl," I knew he approved of my work. And I wanted his approval-- if I knew he was waiting for me at a practice, very few excuses could cause me to skip it.

He was kind, and aware, and an entertainer. A constant presence at the boathouse, he touched the lives of so many, my entire family included. I can't imagine what it will be like without his greetings at the gate ("Good moooorning! You sleepy girl?"), his tools and his tinkering, his buzz words ("jump!" "special squats" "rest time!" "ups! ups!"), his coach boat zipping around and causing waves for everybody, or his classical music playing while we suffer on the ergs. One of the last times I saw him, he asked if he could accompany us to Argentina to work as our "personal security." I wish he had! When I row I'll miss looking at his handwritten workout plan taped to the stern, but most of all, I'll miss things like his facial expressions, his voice, and the possibility of in impromptu waltz with him on the dock.

He lived so well, though, and I can only hope to be as strong and committed as he was at his age. He will continue to inspire us, and he will be missed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Glory hole, indeed.

Possibly the best part of learning a new skill is learning the unique terminology. I thought rowing vocabulary sounded dirty (e.g. the coxswain commands you to take harder strokes but avoid catching crabs), but now I believe that glassblowing may win the prize. "Puntie," "annealer," and, ahem, "glory hole" are just a few of the everyday gems. Add to that the fact that you work with glowing, radiating pits of heat, and it's pretty much amazing.

Omg, glassblowing is so wacky and cool! Let me be clear, I didn't actually do any literal blowing this time, apparently that's just another part of the technique and the next step for me, if they get me back in the studio for more classes. But I DID get to wear sunglasses and use a long-ass stainless steel pole and tools to gather, heat up, apply color to, and mold some super duper hot glass! My class was one-on-one and I left a lovely paperweight cooling in some crazy machine that gradually takes it from like 960 degrees to zero.

Apparently that process takes a few days, so I don't technically have my creation in-hand yet. And I have no idea whether I will actually pursue this kind of thing further, but I do know that I loved it, that I can now talk intelligently for a very short while on a new subject, and that it was an amazing, fun present. Thanks Bri!

Friday, February 08, 2008


So if my last post was late on Wednesday night (10 is late for me!) and the next one is early on Friday morning, does that count as a Thursday post? How about two today?

Crap, better get thinking.

What's really on my mind is the fact that I'm having the craftiest weekend ever! First, a long long time ago (Christmas 2006), Brian gave me the awesome gift of an intro-to-glassblowing class. It's one of those things I'd said I had always wanted to try, and he definitely delivered. Unfortunately, I couldn't get myself together to schedule it until now. I'm super psyched, all I know is that it's one-on-one and I get to make my own object.

Continuing the crafty trend, I am going to finally begin setting up a few silkscreening things. It won't be the beautiful workshop where I learned serigrafia:

Papelera Palermo, te extraaaaaño!

But I'm excited to make some of my own stuff. Now if I can just manage to not get too distracted...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Throat of Fire.

When we were in Ecuador, we spent a while enjoying a gorgeous area, full of mountains and waterfalls and hiking and biking and thermal baths, which also just happened to be right under an active volcano. Active, as in constantly puffing. The last time it erupted was in 2006, and then it erupted today!

Holy crap!

According to AP/NYTimes, the volcano shot ash 6 miles into the air, and 3,000 people had to be evacuated. Sounds like the land in the area is greatly affected and sort of cut-off for the time being, but no major human disasters reported, fortunately. I hope people can begin to experience this amazing area again soon.

Isn't it crazy?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nameless Blog Challenge

Let's face it, I've been wanting to be one of those people that updates her blog often. And yesterday I found this thing.

I should totally do this! Right? Should I?



The game was exciting at the end and all, but more importantly, this was my very favorite Super Bowl commercial:


(Addendum: Because I made too many toffee almond bars for the Super Bowl yesterday and I didn't want to be surrounded by them at home, I left a tupperware full of them in the kitchen/lunch area at work. They were gone within two hours. I'm just saying.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Falling Slowly

Have you seen the movie Once? Because if you haven't, you should. I'm not one to do Oscar lists or anything like that, but I thought this film was particularly beautiful, simple, and different.

It's a musical of sorts, but nothing like you would expect. The film is about musicians, and the actors in the leading roles are musicians in real life, and composed and performed all of the songs. I just found their performances to be so honest and sincere, and the music so melodic, that I'm thinking about it long after seeing it about a month ago. Check it out! (If you're interested in more, the stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, were interviewed on NPR's Sound Opinions about their quick rise from struggling musicians to international stars.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And 57 layers of clothing.

It's a little late (like almost a week), but I must mention that Susie and Josh came to town last weekend and it was the best time ever! This is always the case when they visit, though, so that part isn't a surprise. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to matter at all what we do when they visit, it's always a fun time. The reason this is fortunate is because over the weekend we had the coldest. weather. ever. That special brand of crystal clear, frozen-inside-of-nose-burny-fingertips weather.

But did we let that stop us? No, we did not! Below are some of the things that were accomplished over those three days (because it's always about quantity, people!), despite the great icy adversity we faced. A tally o' fun, if you will:

1 aMAZing batch of toffee almond bars;
1 birthday party with endless bite-sized hors d'ouevres (mmmm...pigs in a blanket...why are you not more present in my life? );
2 meals at Sunrise Cafe;
1 game of Apples to Apples;
1 all-inclusive game of Wii bowling;
2 games of Wii boxing. Dave made it look like dancing and Josh made it look like an example video of how the Wii remote should ALWAYS be strapped to your wrist;
1 unexpected and deeeeelicious meal of homemade beef stew and macaroni and cheese (courtesy of wonderful Pete and Robin);
1 very large table of teachers at brunch at Flying Saucer, made possible by the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.;
Countless long overdue, overly detailed conversations about nothing and everything.

I like "list posts." Pat on the back for good reflective practice! Miss you Sus and Josh...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To-go coffee will do.

Okay, maybe at 6:45am in Chicago I've been awake for a considerable amount of time and I'm either exercising or freezing my butt off outside, while at the same time when we were in Argentina I was still sleeping! Maybe at 12pm in Chicago I'm usually quickly finishing what's left of my lunch (the rest of it having been surreptitiously consumed at my desk between 9:30 and 10am), while in Argentina I was having a leisurely cup of coffee from the french press or, let's face it, maybe still sleeping! Maybe between 2 and 5pm here I am rushing to or from a school for programming, trying to answer the phone in the car while simultaneously inserting a hands-free earpiece, operating a stick shift, and executing a left turn in heavy traffic, while in South America I was seeing a cultural sight, going on a boat ride, working on a silkscreen project, or volunteering at a youth arts organization! Cereal versus steak! Alarm clocks versus the tango!

But do not feel bad for me!

Seriously though, do NOT feel bad for me. I jest. Yes, we had a wonderful time and we'll never get to be that carefree again, but this post is actually about how I am happy with being back. Our transition back into "real" life has actually gone quite beautifully, if I do say so myself. First of all, we timed it perfectly, getting back the minute before Christmas. Just in time for warm houses and festivities and stockings and trees. For dancing to the music I brought home while getting the house ready for the family party, for my sister's osso bucco and ridiculous almond tarts. Then there was moving back in, and New Years, and having the chance to just reorganize everything. (Again, "organization." I'm on it.)

I've even been fine so far with the cold and going back to work. I have a lot of high hopes for my job in general and it looks like (fingers crossed) things may be going the way I want them too. I am busy and stimulated and taking on more responsibility. And the best part is, I'm only working with one organization instead of three.

Again, it's been less than two weeks back in full swing, but it's been great. I wouldn't mind a big, delicious, inexpensive steak though.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Another year, another blog header image.

Hi! I'm back. Happy New Year!

Thank goodness I'm one of those people who thinks change is usually exciting and fun. Brian and I were able to leave everything and be really excited about taking off on an amazing journey, and get excited about coming back and starting new (or slightly new) lives. To celebrate the return, I figured out how to put my favorite Buenos Aires picture on my blog header. (There is some thinking about maaaybe switching blog services, but I'm not quite ready. Not because I don't like the change, but because I'm indecisive. Something I need to work on. So we'll see. For now, new, colorful, antique soda bottle image! Yay!)

I've never been big on New Year's resolutions, or at least not public about the few I've had in the past. I have had a considerable amount of time to think about how I want things to be, though, now that I have this weird sort of "fresh" start. A friend of mine told me about the idea to have a "theme" for what you're going to focus on for the year ahead, which I think is great because it's a) really fun to think of the possibilities, and b) very positive all around. For example, another friend's theme was education, which would involve her learning a language for a foreign trip, and various other classes and self-enrichment type things, that are fun for her and not work. If I were to choose a theme, I suppose it would have something to do with organization. I hate the way that sounds, though, like I need to buy a bunch of coordinated boxes to contain my clutter (I do). In my version, it's sort of a mental organization, a shift in attitude to one that involves lots of thinking ahead, procrastinating less, and finding ways to be relaxed, clear-headed, and proactive about things. It definitely involves work, and home, but also friends and love and art and social consciousness.

So we'll see. Aren't those bottles pretty?