chicago, F&F, writing

april snowers

Yes, it’s snowing again. This time, the white dots are rushing downwards, like arpeggios.

I’ve spent the day cleaning up from last night’s party, which is one of my favorite things to do – to very slowly remove stains from your apartment that you can’t identify or remember. How did the food get all the way over here?

R&C took over the kitchen at 4 pm and created a TopChefworthy multi-course meal, including clams, grapefruit, salmon, focaccia, and scallops. E surprised me with a cake that was mousse layered on top of a brownie. I haven’t had a proper birthday cake in ages. And they really put 27 candles on it. I have the best friends in my universe or in Douglas Adams’s. No one went home hungry, or sober.

The best part was E singing along with Air Supply, and the other best part was when we found ourselves straining the last bottle of red wine through coffee filters to remove glass from a broken neck. So far, no one seems to have died. C lost one of the solar-system earrings R made her outside somewhere, and now that it’s started snowing, I’m not sure I will be able to find it.

Yesterday was also the first meeting of the new playwriting class I’m taking. I got to workshop the scene which I thought was going to serve as the play-within-the-play. It reads fine, but the instructor pointed out that it both had no dramatic action and also, as plays-within-plays go, was one of the least eventful PWPs ever. He was right.

I’m very excited about working on both the frame-play and the PWP itself, but I get the feeling that this class, rather than leaving me with a finished draft, is going to leave me with unfinished questions.

I am going to brave the snow and go buy an eggplant. If you had asked, I would advise you to do the same. Snow in April demands eggplants.

a propos of nothing, chicago, writing

why is a raven like a writing-desk?

Last night, Beth and I ate at Mana on Division and planned out the Seder we’re having next week, and then I rode the Ashland bus to Pilsen for another meeting of the Jacques Lacan book club – which isn’t only about Jacques Lacan – but in my mind, he will always be the person who dragged me back into critical theory.

This morning is the first meeting of another playwriting class. It’s six sessions, and each one includes one hour of a writing exercise and two of hearing actors read the scenes you bring in.

So I’m beginning with what I think are the two crucial scenes from the 80 pages of the two-character play that I want to put within a larger framing structure, and seeing what happens. This week, one of my Chicago friends is one of the two guest actors, so that’ll be fun. She’s seen some of this material before.

I’m so happy to be back in a Saturday morning theater environment, like the acting class I used to audit in Los Angeles. This class is a long-running thing that I expect to have some regulars and some new folks. It’s a community that I’m very excited to meet. It won’t be the same as being in rehearsals, but it is a step closer to returning to rehearsals on the terms I want.

Tonight, a whole acronym full of friends are coming over for dinner. Outside, you can see sky between the clouds.


kiss me, I’m Irish AND it’s warm outside

Today is the second St. Patrick’s Day in 4 days. Perhaps worn out from the excesses of Saturday, tonight’s celebrations are much more subdued. It’s so warm – 70 degrees! – that after I went to yoga I sat in Wicker Park, at a stone table with a chessboard set in the center, for an hour, writing and writing and writing until there was no light at all. I wasn’t the only one there – people had poured out of all the surrounding apartment buildings and graystones to be outside and feel the air. People in green T-shirts sitting on the grass.

Leaving the park, a stranger said to me, “Enjoy it – it’s only going to last two more days.” Chicagoans are so aware of the forecast.

“Don’t say that,” I said. I still believe that if you ignore the weather, it doesn’t exist.

“You know it!” he said. “You’ve got your preparedness and everything,” referring to my jacket.

It’s true that I never leave my house here without some kind of jacket, but it has less to do with preparedness and more to do with laziness. I’ve never learned to check the weather, and if a winter in this town didn’t get me to start, I don’t know what will.

a propos of nothing, chicago, writing

Conversation with the CATHEDRAL

[You know, I tried to read CONVERSATION IN THE CATHEDRAL a couple weeks ago and couldn’t. And yet I wrote a post which was derivative of his work. I’m not Llosa, but here’s what’s left, after I took his style out of my writing:]

Chicago. Spring forward, sunny day, a conveyor sidewalk of cafes ending at a black metal bench at the northwest corner of Division and Damen. A bench without a bus stop.

Heading north, a woman in semi-transparent brown leggings with no pants and no skirt pushing herself, her husband, and her bushels of baby strollers up Damen. This is the second instance of Wicker Park-area exposure I’ve seen in a few weeks – the last one was a woman on the 70 bus with plumber’s cleavage.

Back to the present, a man on an electric bicycle is circling the block, proudly displaying his gut in his red jersey, not moving his calves one bit to move his body.

We sit, we eat, we observe other people’s bodies in motion around us, and we spend the day waiting for a bus that doesn’t come. Instead, the night does.

I say, elated, that I’m going to write a poem about the woman with no pants. I don’t. I write this instead.

[As I write this, gazing more and more inward, a little red-headed bird made out of burnt umber lands on the porch outside my window and squawks at me, as if to say “Get over yourself.” ]


one of those days

Yesterday, after dying the river green and watching Chicagoans drinking the river dry, I went down to Chinatown-Cermak and saw a woman in a punk-rock concert trying to set someone’s plaid T-shirt on fire with a cigarette lighter. I met someone at the concert who had quit his job to see this band, years ago. I left before they played.

a propos of nothing, chicago

saint patrick’s saturday

Today we are going to watch the river being dyed green from E’s friend’s lake-looking apartment, and then later on I’m going to hear a bunch of “acid jazz,” “prog-rock,” and “wandering electric piano” at Reggie’s. The slight but consistent improvement in the weather has made everyone much more social, and we are all back in the business of overcompensating for the snow.


the most beautiful city in the country

“Long after Burnham’s death, Frank Lloyd Wright told a lecture audience, “Thanks to Dan Burnham, Chicago seems to be the only great city in our States to have discovered its own waterfront.” Chicago, Wright said, was the most beautiful city in the country, and he gave the credit for this to Burnham, whose architecture he could never abide.”

– Paul Goldberger in the New Yorker on the centennial of the Burnham Plan of Chicago

chicago, writing

this morning

I am editing the narratives of two artists into those “artist’s statement” items for a grant. I got to talk on the phone to each of them, which was nice. One, rehearsing in Minneapolis, had just returned from getting lost on a morning jog in ten-degree weather.

It would be inaccurate to say that snow is “falling” today, because from my second-story window, it looks more like it’s rising. Or, knocking at the door.


even though / I never have seen snow…

Chicago: the smell of burning hair in the hair dryer.

After our February respite of clear sidewalks, snow is falling outside like it’s making up for lost time, and the wind makes it look like smokestack currents from a snow-manufacturing plant.

I hear the foreman yelling, “More snow! We have to make more snow! We can’t keep up with the demand!” and his boss allowing him to go into overtime, to manufacture snow day and night, day and night, until Chicago’s inexhaustible appetite for snow is once again satiated.


Honey? We’re out of milk.

On the way home from Star Lounge, I saw a man come out of the corner grocery store and hurry down Rockwell. He was still wearing the sweat pants he’d slept in and scrunching his face under his hat, carrying a cold gallon of cold milk in his right hand and holding both gloves in the left. I hope the rest of his breakfast proceeds without interruption.