Tag Archives: history

photo friday: monticello

18 Oct



Back in August, Swede and I toodled out to Frederick, Maryland for a friend’s wedding, and the day after set off toward adventure to Charlottesville, Virginia. Swede’s cousin and his new wife just moved there, and a visit to them was in order. 

Charlottesville and the surrounding areas are home to many several historically significant locales. You know. Like the one where that one guy lived. You know. That guy. He was a president. The third one, perhaps. He had poofy white hair, because that was original for the time, and no other president or important man of the era had poofy white hair.


I am fabulous with details. 

He also built quite the estate, if you must know, which sits on acres and acres overlooking some of the most lovely country you’ve ever seen. 

I would not so much mind if Swede or I became president and could build a similar estate. I’d even style my coif to poofy whiteness. 

Eight Years

19 May

May 19, 2001, was the only sunny Saturday of the month, thank God. Had we not been able to spread out on the rolling lawn in front of LeMans for the commencement ceremonies, had the rain poured down, forcing us to pack into Moreau or Angela Athletic, it would have been miserable. It would have been sticky and humid and I was already mildly hungover, so it just would not have been a pleasant way to end my college career. But thankfully it was sunny, and quite warm. Most of the other girls wore skirts or nice dresses underneath their black robes; I wore a tank top and gym shorts. The gym shorts did say “Saint Mary’s College” on them, though, which I thought was appropriate for the day. I still have the shorts. I still sleep in them now, just like I did then.

Compared to other schools, we were miniscule, a little over 300 of us graduating that year, all women of course. They called each of us up on stage individually, and we shook hands with the president and posed for a photo op as we received our diplomas. Currently, my diploma is tucked away in the catch-all shelf of my wine bar. It seems an appropriate place – wine stoppers, serving trays, and my college diploma.

When I say “eight years” to myself it sounds like a very long time ago. It was a very long time ago. But it doesn’t feel like a very long time ago. It feels more like…hmm…more like recently. Not like yesterday – I am too much of a different person than my 22 year old self for it to feel like yesterday – but maybe just like a few years ago. I like thinking about college, and remembering the memories. I laugh at myself at how absolutely heartbroken I was when I graduated, my security blanket being ripped away from me. My parents may have rejoiced at signing that last tuition check, but I bawled my eyes out for days those last few weeks of school, and the few weeks after school, at leaving. It wasn’t just me. My gal pals, the ridiculous, silly, lovely, loving, amazing, adventuresome, smart, thoughtful, bitchy, sassy women who had been my inner circle for four years, we all simply fell over ourselves wailing and carrying on at the injustice of it all. If only there was more time! If only my parents hadn’t said they would only pay for four years of college! If only we could live in LeMans forever! Vive La South Bend!

Thankfully, blessedly, gorgeously, we’re still stuck together in that circle, despite being flung to the various coasts and corners of the country. And there are newer additions to my circle, friends who became better friends after graduation, for various and sundry reasons, but every single one pointing back to the tree-lined Avenue. So eight years later, Happy Anniversary, ladies. Happy 8th Graduation Anniversary to all of the SMC 2001 Belles.

Here and There and Everywhere

18 May

The two weren’t far behind me, and I could hear their conversation clearly. They snarked over the influx of newbies to the Hill who had fled, or been pushed out of, the private sector for the safety of government work. And then their conversation turned.

“You’re from Texas, right?” he asked her.

“Yeah,” she said. “I want to go back, I mean, I love Austin, so I know I’ll go back. I just don’t really know when. I like it here, and I don’t think it’s the right time to go back.”

I was thisclose to turning around and saying to the girl, “WORD.”

Since Day 1 when I moved out here over 3 years ago, I’ve wondered when it would be I’d pack up and go back to Chicago, because this was just an adventure, not a permanent fixture. I figure I will just know when it is the right time, like I just knew it was the right time to chuck my job back home and pick up and move to DC. And I love it here. I like my job(s), I adore my friends, I love that I did something I always wanted to do—take a leap of faith and move to a new city—and pulled it off successfully. I love that DC has become a home to me. I love that I’ve gotten to know this very, very odd city quite well. And Baltimore, too. Baltimore has been my biggest surprise, how much I love it, how well I’ve gotten to know it, how wondrous and underrated a city it is, but I’m glad that I know this gem and love it, love it.

But I get homesick like you wouldn’t believe. And I’ve never seen myself settling down here. Those visions and dreams always take place in Chicago. I love Chicago, a big part of my heart belongs to that city and its surrounding areas, and always will. My roots are deeply planted there, and could not be yanked from the ground with the force of anything. A very large part of me wishes I were there to strengthen those roots further, make them stronger and even more definitive. And now there’s a baby coming to the family, and it freaks me out to think that I will be the crazy aunt who doesn’t live nearby while everyone else does, that my relationship with this baby will suffer because of where I live. Maybe it would be different if I weren’t the only one who lived away from my family, but I am, and it fucking sucks sometimes, when I feel like I am missing out on so very much.

But on the other hand, I would miss out on a lot if I moved back to Chicago. I would miss out on my family I’ve created here in DC. And miss out on some other variables that I can’t quite name right now, but I’m sure would come to light when I’ve stepped away. And I don’t particularly want that, either.

What would be ideal is if I could just take my friends and my job and everything and just plop them all in Chicago, and then I could have the best of both worlds and life would be grand. TA-DA!



Then the struggle continues. It’s very hard to be in two places at once, and I just can’t seem to reconcile a thing.

You Have No Idea How Sad This Makes Me

26 Mar

A little south of the intersection of 103rd and Western Avenue, you’ll find a Dunkin’ Donuts that has been around as long as I can remember. At the corner of 103rd and Western used to be our dentist’s office, and after each visit Mutherrr would always take us to the Dunkin’ Donuts and then we’d often stop by Grandma’s house, which was only a few blocks away on Talman.

The Dunkin’ Donuts is where we stood for years, decades, come each Sunday before St. Pat’s, watching the South Side Irish parade trundle down the street, Some years we were bundled up and shivering in the cold, other years in Tshirts and shorts, sweltering in the sun and early summer-like temperatures.

That’s Chicago for you.

And that Grandma’s house was so close meant that we not only got great parking, but after mass at St. John Fisher (in later years a children’s mass wherein the 3rd grade class would depict the “Story of St. Patrick” for the homily, complete with blue bed sheets for the sea, a cardboard boat, and a reluctant St. Patrick being dragged across the altar by his captors) we could simply walk up to the parade. When Grandma died a few years ago, and we got ready to sell the house, there was serious talk among the family that maybe we should put a clause in the sale contract that would still give us parking rights during the South Side Irish parade.

But now it doesn’t really matter.

There’s a part of me that has always considered the SSI parade my parade. Mostly because my birthday always fell on or right damn near the day of the parade, and when I was little my mutherrr told me that the parade was, in fact, being held for me, and I believed her. If nothing else, parade day was always about family for us, even when we grew up, turned legal, and headed to the west side of Western Avenue, where the bars opened that Sunday immediately following the area’s multitude of 10 o’clock masses. Twenty minutes or two hours of the parade – however much you stood to watch; I always had to see the Emerald Society, a group of city law enforcement officials who played the bagpipes, before I felt I could call the parade a success – and then it was always back to Grandma’s house to eat corned beef and cabbage and watch any basketball game we could find.

And now? Now it seems the tradition has come to an end. Technically, I guess it came to an end when Grandma passed away, and besides, I’d moved to DC by then anyway, but at least I could have gone back to the parade had I wanted. This just seems much more final.

Having a Feeling

19 Mar

So I like the Facebook. (Much like I like the Google.) It’s fun to play Scrabble, change status updates, post pictures, and all that good stuff. But BY FAR my favorite thing to do on Facebook is going into the friend lists of some of my more distant Facebook friends.

Because that doesn’t sound creepy at all.

Let me explain: Growing up, we moved when I was in 3rd grade. So from pre-school to 3rd grade I had this one group of friends and classmates, and then from 3rd grade to 8th grade I had another group of friends and classmates. But after 8th grade, instead of going on to the public high school like most of my class, I jumped ship and went to a Catholic high school, where, coincidentally, I re-friended and re-classmated some of the people from the first group. But consequently, lost track of most of the second group.

But now, by the power of Facebook*, I have reconnected, at least virtually, with a lot of the friends and people I knew in junior high. I know this is not news to anyone, and probably a goodly number of you are having the same “Gee, isn’t this neat!” kind of feeling, but I just have to stress that I find reconnecting with classmates fascinating. For two reasons:

1) I feel like junior high was a long time ago. (Because, well, it was.) But I am also, frankly, flattered that anyone from junior high who did not go on to the same high school as I did remembers me. I don’t know why, I just kind of figured that they forgot about me since I didn’t go to high school with them, and we didn’t stay in touch? Even though I remember them? I can’t pinpoint my thought on why I think this, but there you go.

2) My junior high Facebook friends are friends with other junior high classmates who I knew, and for the most part liked, and was friendly with, but never really friends with them. A lot of these people they went on to high school with, possibly even college. And scrolling through the friend lists of my junior high Facebook friends I am seeing names that make me pause, smile, and think, “OH MY GOD, I REMEMBER HIM! He was so hot when he was 12. Wow…he’s still hot now.” Or some such. There are names that pop out at me that I haven’t heard since the summer before freshman year of high school, girls I played softball with, or just friends of neighborhood kids I knew.

Granted, similar thoughts and feelings occur with high school Facebook friends, but it’s not quite the same. Maybe because before Facebook, I really had no connection to my life between 3rd grade and high school. So these names I’m seeing, friends of junior high friends, are names that I haven’t heard in a really long time. And were it not for Facebook, I might never have heard them again.

And it’s fun to see what these people look like now, to see if they still look like their 12-year-old self, or if they are completely unrecognizable. Because maybe the last memory of that person is of him or her wearing Cross Colors overalls, or playing the flute in band. (Maybe those things were simultaneous. It was the 90s.)

So thanks, Facebook, for throwing me a line to my past, which is gone, but certainly not forgotten. And for showing me that the kid from World History who we all thought was a little crazy turned out to be a pretty decent guy after all.

*Why yes, it is like the power of Grayskull.