Joe and I spent last weekend in D.C. I flew out for some business on Thursday evening and Joe joined me by working remotely on Friday. I had a great day in the office on Friday, getting some new (and much wanted) work projects. We spent Thursday and Friday nights with our friends Amie and Brian, who have many exciting adventures lined up for themselves this spring. (Getting married! Honeymooning in Malta! Moving from D.C. to San Francisco!) Friday night was spent enjoying dinner at T.N.R. in Courthouse and then dancing the night away with their Kinect.
Since the official reason for our trip to D.C. was my company's annual banquet Saturday evening, my company put Joe and I up in the hotel Saturday night. We were definitely spoiled with our room in the opulent D.C. landmark Willard Intercontinental. I remember having drinks a few times in the bar at the hotel on special occasions when I lived in D.C., never dreaming I'd ever be able to spend a night in such a luxurious hotel.
After I spent Saturday afternoon with the lovely Tiger wandering Eastern Market, checking out the delicious macaroons at The Sweet Lobby, and lunching at Matchbox while Joe worked, Joe and I dressed up and headed to the Willard's ballroom for the company banquet.
Excuse the crappy phone camera pics. My camera battery died.
(Lesson learned....ALWAYS pack the damn charger.)
The banquet was fantastic. We had a great time eating and drinking and socializing with coworkers and dancing the night away. But we did admit to each other in the elevator on the way down that we felt like a couple of kids playing dress-up. It's so strange to be grown-ups sometimes.
And then, to top off a fantastic weekend, we met up with the ever-fabulous Mb for a delicious Sunday brunch at Co Co Sala.
It was a perfect weekend, full of love and laughter and good times with good friends. I love spending time with friends who are so close that, even after months apart, the conversation just starts as if I saw them last week. That's special. And it was great to see D.C. again, but greater still to come home to Sweet Home Chicago after all that. Now if only I could somehow move all my favorite D.C. peeps to Chicago.....then life would be absolutely perfect.....
Ahh, my friends. I have so much I want to talk about today. I feel unusually chatty for a change, and I attribute that to the uplift of good friends, adventures, and the promise of sunshine (that I didn't even realize I was missing).
But if I'm honest, really honest, it has less to do with the promise of the sunshine and much more to do with the warm glow of my heart.
You see. These days. These are special days. Indeed.
My heart feels full to bursting.
There's so much love, I can't stand it. And that's the best kind. To feel overwhelmed with love. Absolutely overwhelmed.
Every time I feel content and loved and beautiful and at peace with the world, well, someone says or does something that just tips my heart right back into overflowing again.
There's a lot of love these days.
From Joe. From family. From friends. From myself.
And that's a special treasure. I'm soaking in it all in and savoring every last drop of this sweet love.
this is for the fat girls this is for the little brothers this is for the schoolyard wimps and for the childhood bullies that tormented them for the former prom queen and for the milk crate ballplayers for the nighttime cereal eaters and for the retired elderly Wal-Mart store front door greeters shake the dust
this is for the benches and the people sitting upon them for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns for the men who have to hold down three jobs simply to hold up their children for the night schoolers and for the midnight bike riders trying to fly shake the dust
for the two year olds who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half God shake the dust for the boys with the beautiful sisters shake the dust for the girls with the brothers who are going crazy for those gym class wallflowers for the 12 year olds afraid of taking public showers for the kid who’s always late to class because he forgets the combination to his locker for the girl who loves somebody else shake the dust
this is for the hard men who want love but know that it won’t come
for the ones who are forgotten the ones the amendments do not stand up for for the ones who are told speak only when you are spoken to and then are never spoken to speak every time you stand so you do not forget yourself do not let a moment go by that doesn’t remind you that your heart beats thousands of times a day and that there are enough gallons of blood to make every one of us an ocean do not settle for letting these waves settle and for the dust to collect in your veins
this is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling for the poetry teachers and for the people who go on vacations alone
for the sweat that drips off of Mick Jagger’s singing lips for the shaking skirt on Tina Turner’s shaking hips for the heavens and for the hells through which Tina has lived
this is for the tired and for the dreamers for the families that will never be like the Cleavers with perfectly made dinners and sons like Wally and the Beaver this is for the bigots for the sexists for the killers for the big house pen-sentenced cats becoming redeemers and for the springtime that always seems to show up right after the winters
this is for you
make sure that by the time the fisherman returns you are gone again because just like the days I burn at both ends and every time I write every time I open my eyes I am cutting out parts of myself just to give them to you so shake the dust and take me with you when you do for none of this has ever been for me all that pushes and pulls it pushes for you so grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and hop on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours
make my words worth it
make this not just another poem that I write
not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all walk into it breath it in let it crawl though the halls of your arms like the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live shaking the dust so when the world knocks at your door clutch the knob tightly and open on up running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you fingertips trembling though they may be
On Sunday afternoon, a perfect winter afternoon - blue skies, sunshine, just enough chill in the air to remind you it's still February - Joe and I wandered downtown to the skating rink at Millennium Park. It was the perfect little date.
Every stylin' skater knows she needs leg warmers. Naturally.
Such a handsome man.
No worries...neither of us actually fell. But the skates kept moving when he tried to pose for a picture.
The details: "New" lamp is one pulled from the office since the old one died and I absolutely hate the overhead light in the living room. Beach picture is from Scotland and pulled from our bedroom. Chicago skyline picture was from our sunset sailing adventure last summer and pulled from the office wall. Joe's brother's painting went into the office. The giant poppy painting is currently in our bedroom until we decide whether to hang it up or sell it. Red rug is now in the office. The ottoman is from Target, purchased with Christmas gift cards. The awesome turquoise rug was bought on clearance at Crate and Barrel. Pillow covers are the same pillows that came with the couch but recovered with last weekend's fabric find. I love how it all came together slowly but oh so perfectly. It really does satisfy my need for color. And it really does make the whole space feel brand new.
I made a happy little discovery Saturday afternoon.
I was on my way to meet Joe at the grocery store after he got out of his Saturday morning class downtown. Since it was unexpectedly freezing outside, I wandered past the grocery store to see if I could find someplace to treat us to a cup of coffee.
But even better, I discovered they sell yardage of Marimekko fabric!! It is a season or two behind, but on Saturday, I picked up 12 yards of cheery fabrics at $3.95 a yard.....instead of the $45 and up they normally charge for a yard of Marimekko fabrics.
Who in their right mind could resist snapping up such cheery fabrics at such a steal?
And because I was so excited, I came right home and sewed my first ever pillowcovers for the couch using this super easy tutorial.
It was quick and easy, only taking me about an hour and a half to make both. It may have taken less time if the sewing machine had been cooperative instead of jamming up and running out of thread. Joe loves the colors as much as I do, and the best part is, (all a happy accident, I swear!) they match perfectly with my envisioned plan for our living room redo.
Needless to say, I'm sew excited! /end cheesy puns.
The Good: From the author who wrote about Seabiscuit, is this story about Louis Zamperini, an Olympian and WWII prisoner of war. It is an intriguing story about how Zamperini survived some deplorable and inhumane conditions as a prisoner of war in the South Pacific and how he overcame those struggles.
The Bad: Spoiler alert: Zamperini survives. That's good. But the bad is that he became a religious motivational speaker and entirely too much of the story is devoted to that. The story could have ended shortly after mention of his life after WWII.
The Verdict: I'm willing to bet this will also become a future movie if it's not already in the works. But, I was really disappointed by the preachy note the book ended on. It's an interesting story, but not one of my favorites, so read with the knowledge that it will get a bit preachy at the end.
The Good: This is a true story about several U.S. service members who were lost in an isolated jungle in the South Pacific during WWII. The story almost reads like a novel because it is so incredible. It's captivating.
The Bad: Sometimes the author didn't pursue a side story as far as I'd like or I had trouble remembering it was a true story instead of real life and was a little disappointed that not all things turned out the way I would have liked.
The Verdict: A must read. It's absolutely captivating and appeals to all. WWII history, adventure, exotic locales, beautiful scenery, hints of a romance.
The Good: This is a story of the villagers on the Isle of Guernsey and how they coped with German Occupation during WWII. The entire story is shared through letters, written by the villagers after WWII to a young authoress in the hopes that she'll write about their story. Each letter reveals another part of the story or a "correction" of someone else's story....much in the same way small-town gossip and rumor mills run.
The Bad: It's a bittersweet story with a bittersweet ending set in the backdrop of WWII.
The Verdict: I had a lot of fun reading this novel. At first, I was slightly annoyed by the letter format, but the unique style really won me over and I think the story is much stronger for having used that format. While it's a novel, I did learn a bit more about WWII history - such as Guernsey really was occupied by Germans during WWII - and thoroughly enjoyed the scandals and stories and corrections and gossip of small town life with a story to share.
The Good: I wrote my undergrad thesis on another Mahfouz novel, so I was eager to get into this novel. This novel did not disappoint. It is the story of a young Egyptian trying to find out the "truth" about Akhenaten and his rule. Each chapter is a telling of Akhenaten's story from people who knew him and were influenced during his reign.
The Bad: Some of the stories (chapters) were so similar, they got kind of redundant. Also, because I have a short term memory for lists of complex characters, I couldn't put this book down for several days without losing track of who was who.
The Verdict: Read! Definitely read! Especially those of you with a background in the Middle East or an interest in Ancient Egypt.
Note: A dear, sweet, sassy friend of mine and I were talking one day last summer about all the books we never read in school for some reason or another. And an informal, nerdy book club was formed. We made up a list of books we hadn't read and each month, we take turns picking a book off the list to read. There's some informal discussions, but usually it's just a chance for us to read a book we've wanted to read but never did. All future book reviews from that list will have a label of "Nerdy Book Club." And if anyone's interested in reading along, let me know and I'll post a note at the beginning of each month.
The Good: It's Hemingway's most famous book, and widely believed to be loosely auto-biographical. This morning's reviewed book, The Paris Wife, also hints at this. Despite its setting in Italy during World War I, it's a love story.
The Bad: It's Hemingway. I've read several of his novels and short stories before. The only ones I've ever liked have been the ones set in nature. He has a very dry, very pared down prose that can be quite uncomfortable.
The Verdict: Eh. At least I can say I've read it. I'm not a fan of Hemingway.
The Good: This novel is based on the true story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. It's an extremely well-written novel and pulls many of its stories from tales told about Hemingway's first marriage. You know before you open the book how it'll end (damn history!), but you find yourself enchanted and rooting for Hadley and Hemingway anyway.
The Bad: It's a bit devastating. Hemingway's life is well-known, and it's hard, even in a novel, to watch someone's life fall off the tracks so hard.
The Verdict: A must-read. Absolutely. You won't be able to put it down.
The Good: The imagery (see an early theme running through my reviews yet) was great. I really felt like I was seeing India through Evie's eyes. I could also feel her fascination with the letters....I'd probably be just as enchanted with the authors of hidden letters if I found some hidden in my home too.
The Bad: Eh, it felt a bit disjointed. I understood the reasoning behind writing the book like she did, but it didn't flow as well. I also was not at all happy with the ending.
The Verdict: A solid "meh." Read it if you're bored or trying to avoid mandatory reading (like me on IT migration strategies...zzzzz)....skip it if you've got any other book that sounds more interesting.
The Good: The imagery in this story is so striking....I felt like I was on their travels with them, and going through the same grieving process as this father and daughter. The stages of grief are tied with their visits to various Asian countries.
The Bad: It is a bittersweet, sad story. Understandably so, given that it's the story of Ian and his daughter Mattie's travels to remember and move on from the Kate's death. Sometimes the pain is a little too raw, which makes it even more believable.
The Verdict: I'm starting my little book week on the blog with this book because it's been my absolute favorite read out of all the books I'll be reviewing this week. Just incredibly well-written with vivid imagery and raw, understandable emotions. Absolutely a must-read. John Shors' other books are already in my queue, waiting for me to finish a few others.
Happy Friday my friends. I hope your weekend is filled with comfy clothes and lounging on comfy couches with soft blankets and loves to cuddle up to. (We often take the back cushions off the couch for a little extra cuddle room when we plan on being extra lazy. Love it.)
Be sure to check back next week for the first ever book week....I'll be sharing all my overdue book reviews and a few other book-related posts.