Echo chamber

On the el today, I watch a yuppie and a homeless man achieve
marginal success connecting with each other on a human level. The
contact is initiated by the yuppie, who asks the homeless man how he is doing. The homeless man then gives a long, didactic but calm description of life as a homeless person, how he feels looked upon as the dregs of society by everyone else and intends to make a film about the homeless person’s perspective. (“Are you going to eat tonight?” the homeless man says, by way of illustration.) Their discussion goes on for at least 8 stops, and the yuppie, by the end, tries to give him advice on signing up for an e-mail account to aid him in his job search. This seems to frustrate the homeless man, who describes much greater barriers to finding employment.

The homeless man asks for 6 dollars for dinner. The yuppie fishes in his wallet. He’s got a 20 and three singles. He hesitates and gives him the three dollars, and the homeless man is grateful. They resume arguing, as they leave the train at the same stop, over whether or not the e-mail account will be helpful. But they argue not as complete strangers who are afraid of each other but as neighbors, one of whom is convinced that their sideyard needs a box hedge.

I am sitting here, absorbing this fascinating exchange of sincere stranger-based communication for future blogability. Then I look over my shoulder and notice a kindly white-haired black man, sketching what looks like my portrait.

Who’s got a place to live? I do! I do!

This just in… A new apartment has been secured: A cute little one-bedroom with big windows, hardwood floors, and a little porch in the back. And it’s only a short walk from both Amanda/Charlie’s place and Eliina’s place. It’s a bit too far from the grocery store, but I love a brisk walk in sub-zero weather whilst carrying many pounds. I do. My building manager is Serbian, has fashionable glasses, and swears he will fix up absolutely everything in the place before I move in on the 12th.


Yesterday was one, big domestic scene. I felt like we were in Little Women. The day started with Amanda making an apple pie to take to our Thanksgiving dinner at Charlie’s parents’ house, so Kirsten and I helped with the peeling and chopping. The only small glitch was when the pie juices overflowed in the oven and started burning on the oven floor. Causing much smoke. We opened windows and turned on fans. Amanda: “Is this going to make the pie taste like smoke?”

Luckily, no, it was fantastic and not at all smoked-tasting.

Being there

If you’re following the current situation in Ukraine, a blog called Neeka’s Backlog gives some sense of what it’s like to be there right now. See also her piece in today’s New York Times: “The past four days have taught me something valuable: when I’m watching the situation unfold on television, I grow tense, fearful that it’s not going to end well. But when I return to the crowd, I feel elated, thanks to people like Tanya, tens of thousands of them, and to everyone else who’s out there, people of all ages, hundreds of thousands of them, fearless.”

Side note: Over lunch today, Amanda, Kirsten and I got really wrapped up in a discussion over whether it’s “Ukraine” or “The Ukraine.” I told them I would look it up. Here’s one answer.


Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good feast. And then, a good nap. I am staying here in Chicago, having dinner with Charlie’s family (and Amanda, Charlie and Kirsten).


Talking on the phone to my mom this morning…

Mom: That is one ugly bird. Turkeys, when they’re raw? They’re just…. ugly. You would’ve laughed at me. When I was making it, I just kept saying, “This turkey is god-awful ugly.” I was by myself.

Ten minutes later, talking to my grandmother (my mom’s mother) on the phone….

Grandma: Does your mom have the turkey going?
Me: Yeah. She said it was ugly, though.
Grandma: When they’re raw? Oh, they are.


“The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to be forgiving. Forgive slights, because they were not wounds. Forgive wounds, because they were not injuries. Forgive injuries, because they were not fatal.” — Gapers Block

Staring out the window at work

It’s snowing. It’s been stopping and starting, just tiny little tentatively snowlike flakes. But it is indeed snow. SNOW. I love Chicago. No beating around the bush here. When it’s cold, it snows; none of this half-assed freezing rain that D.C. gets all winter.