water in my head
Today I began a short tai chi course at the student center. Most of the other people in the class were NU students. One guy had obviously taken a martial arts class before, because at random intervals he did some kind of karate-style kick. The only non-student was a woman, 40-something, who looked slightly appalled at everything we were asked to do. Our instructor was a short, skinny man with chin-length stringy hair. He sounded like Mel Brooks, if Mel Brooks had just rolled out of bed, drunk. We did a bunch of movements intended to massage our internal organs, which I enjoyed (it’s not every day you get to caress your kidneys), but I really only remember one of them. We had to imagine we were standing in front of a large body of water, looking out at the horizon. Which was funny, because we were. The wall in front of us was all glass, and the building sits on the edge of Lake Michigan. Then we were supposed to rise our hands up as though the water was rising with them. Fortunately this did not coincide with reality. Then, once our hands were over our heads, we pretended there was a hole in our skulls and we were pouring the water in, letting it drain down into the balls of our feet. It sounds a little loopy, but it was actually quite relaxing. You’re supposed to do it at least three but no more than nine times. I asked what happens if you do it more than nine times. He said it was like taking a shower. You want to wash, but you don’t want to wash your skin away. So true.

bob gone wild
The deli down the street is the neighborhood time warp, a little shop that sells sandwiches, soup and cookies from, as the hand-lettered sign on the front door says, “11-4 every day but Wednesday, when we are closed.” Two brothers run the place. They are as reserved and distant as people could possibly be while still interacting politely with the general public. Everything is a formal gesture. Imagine my surprise when I see a sign written in marker on a piece of typing paper that says the deli will be closed for three days. Bob is going to a college reunion. Though is face is young, Bob’s hair is completely white, and he wears glasses with thick black rims. He looks exactly like this. (Please wait for that page to load; it’s worth it.) So, I said, you’re going to your college reunion? Yes, he said. He graduated in ’71, but hasn’t been to a reunion since. “I’m organizing this one, so I’d better go,” he joked.

He and a friend have rented out a bar in Tampa, Fl., near where they went to school. He left a part of his life behind when he graduated, he said, because most of his friends stayed in Florida. He dreams about one day walking into their favorite bar (which served two drinks: a large Budweiser and a small Budweiser) and seeing all his old friends.

The reunion falls during Gasparilla, Tampa’s version of mardi gras. So, Bob says, knowing him and his friends, it’ll get pretty crazy.

a girl and a dog
Eliina and I start walking to campus. We get no further than half a block, when we round a corner and there’s all this commotion. First I see the dogs, three or four pit bulls wriggling and tangling into each other on the grass between the street and the sidewalk… four people are tackling the dogs, pulling them back by their skin, basically, and a girl in a plaid pleated skirt is sobbing hysterically on the sidewalk. She’s holding the leash of a skinny black dog that’s keeping one paw gingerly off the ground. One woman pinning the dogs on the grass tells her to go home, go home, take your dog to the vet. All the girl can do is whimper that it’s not her dog, she’s walking it for her neighbor. Eliina offers to walk the girl home, but she doesn’t hear. She turns, still crying, and leads the dog away with the help of another girl who’d been passing by.

what’s your glitch, man?
My e-mail has been down since last night. And I have a sore throat. Blah. … On a happier note, I got a cup of free coffee today.

after dark
I love swingsets at night. Last night was oddly warm, so Eliina and I wandered over to the park a block away and played on the swings. I love swingsets at night because it’s danger and safety, childhood and feeling old; all at once. Plus there’s the whole swinging thing, which is fun anyway. We tilted our heads back and kicked at the bright moon. There was also a wide halo of light in the sky that night, with the moon a little glowing ball in the center. Eliina thought it meant something bad was coming. I thought it meant something good. In any case, we found an uprooted No Parking sign on the way back, so of course we carried it up to the apartment, where it awaits dismantling.

true story
Anybody else been watching the Real World? (Just-because-it’s-set-in-Chicago-I-swear!) One of the girls hooked up with the lead singer of some band, and MTV blurred the guy out because he wouldn’t consent to be in the series. So who’s the band? Luckily, that’s what journalists are for: Big Head Todd and the Monsters.