Saturday, March 29, 2008

What I Saw at the Beach

When I moved to Chicago many years ago, I lived and worked within walking distance of Lake Michigan. I’d often go to the lake at lunchtime to clear my mind. Or, after dinner, to watch the day turn to evening. The lake calmed me, and I enjoyed its many moods.

Now, I live and work miles west of the lake. But I have a friend who lives right there, and when I visit this friend, I often take time to walk down to the beach. This afternoon, as I pulled away from my friend’s house I thought about stopping at the lake, and then about how I didn’t have time to stop, and then about forcing myself to stop and do something good for myself. Ultimately, I turned down a side street, double-parked my car, and walked quickly to the shoreline to soak up a little of Lake Michigan’s beauty. After all, the sky was blue; the air was crisp and clean.

But Lake Michigan looked dirty—the water was brownish blue. Way far out, at the horizon, I saw what seemed to be clear blue water. I stayed for just a few minutes, and I didn’t feel better. Today, Lake Michigan failed to energize me.

I don’t recall that ever happening before.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring for the Organic Farmer

It’s time to sign up for a CSA if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Our experience purchasing a half-share in an organic farm was quite the adventure last year, and probably not the ideal experience for first-timers like us. Then again, maybe it was. We learned a lot.

Here’s Farmer Renee’s latest, thoughtful letter about organic farming. Always fascinating!

On this Easter morning, I wish her my best.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Race & My Formative Years

In a memoir-writing class I took last year, I found myself writing about story-memories like these:

In the mid-1970s—when I was in sixth grade—the only African-American child in our class and I were the shortest kids in the room. For every line-up, every assembly, every class photo, this boy and I stood side by side. Funny how one gets to know a person. Thirty years have passed, but I often think of him—and about the day some classmates of ours tied his hands and feet together and left him outside while everyone else went inside at the end of recess.

In the 1970s, I learned that it was practice for certain Asian-American girls to have cosmetic surgery on their eyelids to achieve a Caucasian-like crease. My friend underwent multiple surgeries to correct scarring.

I remember another classmate of mine, in perhaps second or third grade. Unlike the rest of us, this boy had brown skin and black hair and black eyes. His ethnicity is unknown to me, but I remember his beautiful eyes—with the longest, thickest eyelashes I had ever seen. After the other kids began teasing him about his looks, he cut all his eyelashes off with a pair of scissors.

Of course, there are many, many more tales to tell from my predominantly white, suburban, American youth—but those three stories bubbled to the surface first.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Worth the Time

Yesterday, it took me twelve hours to read Barack Obama’s speech on race. I started reading at breakfast, continued during lunch, and finished after dinner. (Such is my life, these days.)

Since childhood, I’ve always been interested in how people talk about race, and Barack Obama does it remarkably well. Which is why I’m remarking on it. Really, I’m not telling you who to vote for. I’m just telling you to read his speech.

It should only take a half hour or so, uninterrupted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Candy 2008

It’s not as much fun buying candy when your kids are wearing braces. That became very clear to me in the Easter candy aisle at Target on Saturday. I had to tear myself away from all those lovely jellybeans and Starbursts and Tootsie Rolls, but I bought a lot of chocolate—the best I could find. Our daughters can coat their teeth in the stuff, and the brackets will remain intact.

Still, I hung around examining the wares. The blood-orange colored Peeps made me gag. The mom standing next to me and I both agreed that the flavored, edible grass for the Easter baskets was just weird.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Trying to Reduce My Caffeine Intake

A while back, I tore this info out of a Chicago Parent magazine. I meant to share it with a couple of Starbucks addicts I know. I just found it in a pile of stuff on my dining room table:

Caffeine Counter (per 8oz serving, unless otherwise noted):

Chocolate milk—5mg
Decaffeinated coffee—5mg
Green tea— 25-40mg
Black tea—40-70mg
Diet Coke (12oz)—46mg
Mountain Dew (12oz)—55mg
Red Bull (8.3oz)—80mg
Coffee, drip brewed—102-200mg
Starbucks Coffee (Grande, 16oz)—320mg

I don’t know how accurate these numbers are. But there’s this, too.

Maybe chocolate milk is the way to go!