Sunday, September 28, 2008


Alas, the charger was not found and I had to buy a new one. But it came quickly and my phone is now charged and back in action. Yay!

For my secret admirer Ellen: I feel we have not been cooking as much since we moved. The kitchen is smaller, and I am busier. Who knows? We did have a very good dinner this week. R gets the Weeknight Kitchen e-newsletter from The Splendid Table. One recipe we received in August was for "Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Basil and Crisp Bread Crumbs". We have made it twice now, most recently a few days ago, and it is super good. I can't find the recipe online, but it is really easy and we don't usually follow it exactly anyway. Basically you make a balsamic vinaigrette, drop some red and yellow cherry tomatoes in it (or just red, or chopped up full size tomatoes) and let it all sit together for awhile. Cook some pasta (I think we've actually always used linguine) and toast some coarse, fresh bread crumbs. Chop about a half cup of fresh basil into long, thin strips. When your pasta is done put it in a serving bowl, pour the tomatoes and vinaigrette over it and stir it up. Then top with the bread crumbs and basil. Yum yum yum.

The second tasty thing we have made lately is the most tasty ice cream ever. This Roasted Plumricot Ice Cream from the Chicago Tribune magazine. If you have the means of making ice cream, make this. It is the most tasty, flavorful ice cream ever. Also, double the recipe. This is not enough! I didn't bake the ginger wafers that go with it, but I did buy some crispy ginger cookies which we ate with the ice cream and it was all sooooo good. I am so sad there is only like 1 serving left.

The other fun thing we did lately was go to a jazz festival yesterday. It was free! It was in the neighborhood! We saw a jazz quartet that was pretty good, some Latin jazz which is always fun, but the most awesome was this guy, Orbert Davis, and his quintet. Soooooo good. Orbert is a trumpet player and he had a great saxophonist and pianist too. It was amazing. R called it one of the top random live music performances he has seen. After that we walked slowly home, stopped for some egg rolls, and then ate the aforementioned best ice cream ever. It was a great Saturday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blogging the lost

There's this idea floating around the internets that if you blog about something you've lost, it will turn up. I lost my phone charger. Where are you phone charger? I thought I packed it for the conference I was at over the weekend, but it is in none of my bags, nor is it anywhere in the house. Phone charger, please return. My battery is dead and I have no ability to talk to people....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good readin'

Sarahlynn has up two great posts about the presidential candidates and their stands on disability issues. Read them here and here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The rain and my neighbor, Barack

People! It has been raining here nonstop for a million days. It is out of control. I have only experienced this much humidity before in the rain forest. Our couch feels damp because of all the moisture in the air. We are going to attempt to foil our cabin fever by venturing out later to see Burn After Reading. We might not go, except we already bought tickets online. I am excited! I love the Coen brothers and the previews look good!

In other news, have I mentioned how we live mere blocks away from Barack Obama? We found his exact address recently and walked over to have a look. His block is blocked off with concrete barricades, and it looks like you have to pass a checkpoint to get through. There are Chicago Police all over the place, although we did not spy any obvious secret service people. Also interestingly, R and I stood right on the sidewalk in front of Obama's house a month earlier, and had no idea he lived there. All the security did not go up until he was the official nominee.

I also walk by Obama's barber to get to the public library. It is pretty cool being neighbors with a presidential candidate. It also encapsulates the contradictions of our neighborhood. We have a prestigious university, Obama's $1.6 million house, Farrakhan's very fancy house, other super fancy houses, and also are not far from some of the worst neighborhoods in Chicago. So if you hear people complaining about Obama being out of touch with regular people, I don't see how he can be and live here and go to the barbershop he goes to, unless none of the rest of us here are "regular people". Unlike many other people with big houses, his is not in a rich-people only compound, walled off from everyone else around.

Friday, September 05, 2008


65. Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
This is part of a murder mystery series involving a baker in Minnesota, complete with recipes! It was a fun little read and I enjoyed the Minnesota setting, but if you enjoy this genre of mystery, I think Diane Mott Davidson is a better writer. There is some intriguing back story about the main characters love life (she can't decide between two men!) that I want to know more about, so I might read more in the series, although the writing did get on my nerves sometimes.

66. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
The sequel to Weiner's earlier book, Good in Bed. I read it hoping to join a bookclub and make friends, but then found the book club met somewhere too hard for me to get to on the public transportation. Alas. Anyway, I have kind of mixed feelings about the book. It meets Cannie Shapiro and her daughter, Joy, 10 years or so after the earlier book ends. I was disappointed in some of the issue Cannie had, like she hadn't grown much since the earlier book. Cannie's husband was not portrayed very fully at all, he was kind of a shadow character. I did like the depictions of Cannie's relationship with her daughter and the preteen angst her daughter had. I thought those parts were well done. Overall, though, this was not up to the standard I expect from Weiner who I usually think is a very very good writer. It just didn't suck me in the way her books usually do. Also, I don't want to give anything away but I thought the end was terrible. I don't know if I will ever forgive Weiner for writing it.

67. 4% Famous by Deborah Schoeneman
This is a kind of fun book about gossip columnists and the famous and nearly famous in New York. It was interesting for all the glitz and glamor and desperation, but also exhausted me. All these young people running around with high pressure jobs staying out all night at clubs and snorting coke. Exhausting. It was ok, but got kind of repetitive, and I never related to the main character like I think I was supposed to.

Settling in: Chicago style

So we've been in Chicago for over a month now. It is weird, we both talk about how unreal it seems. To be honest, it seems like we don't live in any one particular city. I would say we are pretty settled in, in that most of the boxes are unpacked (the ones that aren't are totally my fault! Sorry!), R has been going to school, I have started teaching, we both have awesome automatically re-filling transit cards, we know where the grocery store is, and we recognize some of the interesting characters in our neighborhood (like the guy who bikes up the middle of the street yelling "so many white motherf***ers to kill!" but he is really harmless, don't worry!).

But still, I have no real feeling of *Chicago*, whatever that is. We keep being surprised by it. Like I go downtown to teach and see the skyline and say to myself, "wow, that's the Sears Tower! I live in Chicago!" or on the way back from Minnesota we kept saying, "huh, all the signs say to Chicago, that's where we live." I don't know why this is. I don't know if it is because being back in the midwest seems familiar to us both. I keep saying Chicago seems like what would happen if St. Louis and New York had a baby. Or maybe it is because we had both been here a number of times before, so it is not totally unknown. Or maybe it is the comparison with coming from New York City, where so many people are so *in* to it being NYC. So often people there say, "That's New York for you" or "New Yorkers are like this" or whatever, which I haven't heard as much anywhere else. I also haven't gotten out at all to meet people, so I don't talk to many people other than R and my students and faculty/staff at the schools I teach at.

I guess I feel like we're settling in, but also that there is still so much we don't know. I spend all my time in one of two neighborhoods. When I got to New York I was more into exploring, but here I am so focused on my dissertation writing and teaching, that I haven't taken the time to go look around. Also, R's school will take anywhere from 5-7 years, so we also know we are connected to here for a long time. Maybe that makes us feel less urgent to get to know it all?

I am enjoying it, though. It is nice to know friends and family are so close, even if I don't have time to visit much right now. I will one day soon. It is nice to get lettuce for HALF THE PRICE we did in New York, and tomatoes for like a third of the price. Our apartment is awesome. Our neighborhood is very nice, and I know that one day when I get out there to make new friends I will find good people to be friends with. So that is the story of settling in in Chicago.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


R and I had an awesome time in Minnesota. We ate many tasty treats. We saw Matt and Laura and Shannon and the baby. The baby is a very cute baby, top 1% of babies I have met. Definitely.

On the way home we stopped at the Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb, WI which was super fun and we got many tasty mustards.

Unfortunately I also returned home with a sore throat and was bed-ridden all day yesterday. My first class starts tomorrow and I do not have the syllabus finished AND there is still that pesky dissertation to write, so I will be a little busy for the foreseeable future.