Essay-ish: A kiss and a ham sandwich for the road

Friends stayed at my house on Friday night. I was a stopping point for their trek to a wedding further west the next evening.

We did what one should do in Chicago — eat. After a subpar experience at a restaurant with too-kind Yelp reviews and duck fritters that might have just been chicken maybe(?), we decided to walk around and wing it.

That’s always when the best things happen.

We ended up at a Thai restaurant that we smelled a block away. The weather was lovely, so the place had its sidewalk-to-ceiling windows open and the scent of spicy chili noodles, curried meats, and delicate fried crab drew us toward it. I don’t even know if we walked there or floated on the fumes, mouths agape.

The only reason we made it out of there with leftovers was because we had eaten beforehand. The next morning, I packed the cartons into a brown paper bag for my friends to take with them on their drive. I included some fruit, a few donuts, and plastic silverware I’d saved from long-forgotten takeout trips.

Before they drove away, they thanked me for taking care of them. It was nothing, I said. And really it wasn’t. It was just love by way of clean sheets and a packed lunch.

I thought of all this today as I tried to write a few lines for my grandma’s obituary, the use of which is quickly approaching.

It’s comforting that my family, like me, turns to getting work done in moments of sadness or overwhelming emotion; one might consider preparing photos for the funeral and an obituary for the newsmen before my grandma actually passes as morbid or denying in-the-moment grief, and maybe it is a little bit.

But I prefer to think we’re proactive. Realistic. Farmers. Doing this work now makes logistics easier when the real loss hits. Work is where we find solace — it’s the only thing we can control. And taking control of our own lives and experiences is a way to honor the lives of the family who worked so hard before us.

I get my callous work ethic honest.

As I do my enjoyment of hosting.

A line I wrote for grandma’s article (one of only a few I could actually muster):

“Carolyn was as quick with a comeback as she was a homemade sandwich for your journey home after a visit.”

grandma

Inspo: Words on the Street, Chicago, and the poetry of Penny Dreadful

Copywriting

CLE Don't Stall CLE Going GOing Gone

Take me out to the bathroom, am I right? Coming at ya from Jacob’s Field Omar Vizquel’s Castle Progressive Field in CLE.

Progressive Field

There’s no jazz hands in baseball!

a league of their own no

This is the menu for one of five salons within three blocks of my apartment. Gotta stay competitive. Who knew waxing could be so fun?

Wax services

Chicago

I’m obsessed with this city. Steady. Pulsing. Strong. Brass. Balls.

Penny Dreadful

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour

  • (mindfulness circa William Blake)

For the love of all things unholy, have you watched this Showtime series? It’s on Netflix and I finished two seasons in a week. Sultry, smoldering, steamy, and spooky—it’s got everything *and* Josh Hartnett. Plus, the beaten down prostitute Brona Croft turned femme fatale man killer Lily Frankenstein story line is EVERYTHING.

lily

I turned the subtitles on to watch Penny Dreadful (same with Peaky Blinders) because those damn accents, and the pleasure of viewing is amplified by reading the lines. The language has transformed into a character itself as I watch. It’s hard to imagine living in a time as terrible as Victorian London, but, silver lining here, at least they had the time and sadness to memorize Yeats and Blake and Shakespeare!

The show’s recurring use of the song “The Unquiet Grave” has haunted me for days. I know that tune from my days as a kid in the Catholic church. But these were definitely not the lyrics. Shudder.

My breast it is as cold as clay,

My breath is earthly strong;

And if you kiss my cold clay lips,

Your days they won’t be long.

How often on yonder grave, sweetheart.

Where we were want to walk,

The fairest flower that ever I saw

Has withered to a stalk,

When will we meet again, sweetheart?

When will we meet again?

When the autumn leaves that fall from trees

Are green and spring up, again.

Essay-ish: America’s Horse with No Name in Warsaw, Indiana

There’s a little Indiana town I always drive through on my way to and from Ohio.

It looks like all the other little Indiana towns, which look like all the little Ohio towns, which probably look like all the little towns in the midwest. I’m assuming. I’ve never driven through them.

But it’s sweet and quaint. Green with life and dotted in small sheds, gas stations, food stops and dusty well-meaning billboards. The working-man homes pop up like stitches on an embroidered quilt, passed down from generation to generation.

I don’t know why I note it on my drive, back and forth back and forth, but I always do. Probably because it’s called Warsaw.

It was named after *that* Warsaw. So titled in 1836, in homage to the Polish capital, a place with a history that dwarfs everything about this one.

On my last trip home, “A Horse With No Name” came on the radio while in Warsaw. Maybe this is also why I mentally tick off when I’ve hit it during my drives. Its oldies station is a bright spot in a long trip of landing my radio dial on songs I love only to be hit with an accompaniment of static right when it gets to the chorus (always the best parts to sing with the windows rolled down).

I wait for the song to end before I pull over for gas.

I park my car and think why don’t I live somewhere like this?

The thing about small towns is that they’re really lovely. Mine is just not a soul that sings best in their bounty. I like the city. I particularly like this Chicago city, blue collar grit with grassroots culture—a place where I can be a horse with no name as I figure out what I want to do next.

But I get the appeal of small towns. I grew up in one and I miss it sometimes. Small town communities and all they represent were long the American Dream for a reason.

I lean on the hood as fuel chugs into my little car, my baby blue horse for the day. An old man in overalls waves and wishes me a good day. I light up and give the same in return. With my particular background, I can be a chameleon. I can fit in at a rave or in a hog barn. I know how to handle both, and some part of me longs for both lifestyles. And I really do enjoy all the different situations—city or country—I can be placed in as long as I can leave both whenever I want.

There was a grieving I went through in my twenties after college. A loss I sensed of a childhood home I knew I’d never go back to. I am fortunate to have the choice and ability to land wherever I want, but it’s still a loss to know you may never have a big backyard for your own children to play in or that you won’t be able to hop over to a sibling’s house to catch lighting bugs just because why the hell not, it’s Wednesday. No matter how close I am to my people at home, there will always be a distance and some part of me, the part that basks in the glow of concrete and skyscrapers and the potential for something new and exciting to happen, will always feel removed… understood and cherished only by me.

In that distance I’ve learned a lot about what it means to make a space for yourself where you know no one. And because of that, I know my chameleon quality extends beyond my personality and life experience. It can also be attributed to my gender, my age, my whiteness. It’s easy to fit in everywhere when you are trusted immediately. What a gift. A gift that so many people don’t get to experience. A security, safety and peace that so many will never know.

Today I’m back in Chicago. I don’t know my neighbors and I don’t really want to because I have work—creative, life-affirming, must-get-it-out-of-me work—I want to focus on without distractions for a while. We’re stacked on top of each other. It’s hot and it’s tight and it’s fucking brilliant.

I like to go and sit on the harbor and take a break to watch the water sometimes. It strikes me how I can see this huge body of water bouncing rhythmically like some apocalyptic force is moving underneath it, yet only hear the lapping of the water right beneath me.

Life feels like that today. Sometimes we get too lost in ourselves and our own experiences. We can’t hear the rest of those around us, even though we’re all moved by the same force. We don’t consider those who don’t live like us because it seems so far away.

Human history is all of ours to consider. It hurts, but we need to hear it. We need to keep listening even when we’re exhausted. Right now, my experience in America is getting to live in a place where I willingly have no name, where I don’t want to be known as I work and I know I’m probably safe regardless.

But others don’t have that.

We remember their names — names like Warsaw, like Alton Sterling — for a reason.

Inspo: Words on the street, Roberta Flack & The Coasters, OH at Belmont Harbor

Copywriting

I tattooed your dad.
I tattooed your dad.

Yas. Mr. Knuckles bringing the word power. I’ll remember his name because of that saying more than yet another sticker of a Sailor Jerry-style pin-up.

BP Sign

You know who didn’t hit empty? Whoever wrote this.

 Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 1.12.53 PM

I’ve been feeling the seventies lately. I recently watched the CNN series about the decade on Netflix, but I think a lot of my obsession can be attributed to how perfect music from the seventies is for summer weekends spent trying to not give a fuck. I love this Google Music playlist, “Boogie Nights Pool Party.” The description about as fun.

Also feeding my seventies obsession: Gravel Ghost Vintage on Instagram. #outfitgoals

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 1.19.28 PM

Cats and cassettes

First Time Ever I Saw Your Face Down in Mexico

I heard this on a long car commute recently. It’s one of those songs that you forget about and then when you hear it again you think, “Why does this never make my mental Top Ten Most Favorite Songs of All Time/ Jackie’s Life list?” The lyrical cadence takes me to another place entirely. A memory maybe. The best kind of memory.

Here’s another obscure hit I adore for its lyrical ability to transport me somewhere sweaty. Happy summer, lovers.

Overheard at Belmont Harbor

Free to a good screenplay about a curmudgeonly octogenarian who walks with his wife by the water every Monday to feed bread crumbs to the seagulls.

“It’s terrorism. But it’s relatively far away. The average American doesn’t know about it. We’re the only people who read three newspapers every morning.”

Blog-ish: Cleveland FTW

MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF: Jay-Z on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Charles The First.
MOST YOUNG KINGS GET THEIR HEAD CUT OFF: Jay-Z on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Charles The First.

I generally think professional sports fandom is kind of dumb.

Not stupid.

Just kind of dumb.

There’s a difference.

My watching of every Pretty Little Liars episode is kind of dumb.

My old flame for Perez Hilton (dot com… circa 2009) is stupid.

Sportz! I don’t understand why people care about it all so much. It’s not like those players come from the town they play for.

So do they really represent your people or your city or state? Your struggle?

They’re just the outward-facing arm of huge corporations taking your money based on selling you a dream that isn’t yours to have. And sometimes they hide terrible truths so you keep cheering and filling the stands and buying $7 hot dogs.

Maybe I’m just jaded.

I’m maybe definitely jaded.

But justifiably so, right?

Have we not learned you can’t really trust your heroes? They’re desperately human too. Tiger. OJ. Cosby. Clinton. Clinton. Jackson. Martha. Etc.

But I just watched LeBron and the Cavs break a 52-year championship losing streak for a city in my home state. The sultan of scoring has dribbled his sport’s silly little way into this cold, listless heart.

I believe(land)!

The best part of this story is that he was a Northeast Ohio boy. Born and raised and prodigal sonned. It doesn’t get much better or relatable than that.

However, I think my favorite part about sports is how reliant they are on structure and time.

There are rules and penalties for breaking them.

It doesn’t matter how hard you played or how far you came back or what you scored.

If your number isn’t higher by the time we get to zero, you lose.

The answer is clear.

Man, in today’s ambiguous world, that shot clock’s exactingness is some straight up poetry.

Everything changes.

Even in Cleveland.

Inspo: Travel edition

So much word (and bagel) porn to be found in Chicago! Here are just a few favorites.

CBA Social CTA

CBA’s social CTA. That they have a sandwich called The Hangover Helper and that it’s delicious doesn’t hurt either.

Rare Book Store

Oh I get it.

Apartment Finders

Hungry with just a hint of thirsty.

Batman

This sat on a rack of Batman tees. The dark knight is unamused.