Then Came the Rains

Irene by NASA

After several flight delays in Chicago, I arrived to my new home in Washington, DC on June 10th at 2:30 a.m. in the middle of the pouring rain.  Exhausted, sore, and soaked, I found the key under the door mat, opened the door and fell asleep for what seemed like several days.

Two months later, I still feel like I’m just waking up, still sore, still soaked, waiting for Irene to hit.  It’s been steadily raining all day, but just a steady rain, nothing more.  No lightning, no thunder, no strong winds.  Just rain that doesn’t let up, never ends.   Reports say the worst is yet to come.  But it’s quiet now, almost too quiet and still.  There’s some satisfaction knowing she’s far away from this, in another part of the country, safe with family.  At least there’s that.  And although quiet and still, and sore, but dry.

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She’s There

Touch

We’re in the middle of a cross-country relocation from Chicago to Washington, D.C.  She’s already left for Washington, DC, and I’ve spent the past six weeks on somewhat of a vacation from both my routine and not-so-routine parental duties, wondering how to fill this extra time, this void, missing her desperately.  Like all vacations, there’s something about it that’s not real.

A friend asked what it is exactly that I miss. 

Her bright-eyed smile in the morning upon waking up; the way she uses her bed as a trampoline and leaps from it; her defiance at starting a day she at times would prefer not to start; her reaching for my hand, which still gives me a thrill; the way she responds with a hum and a giggle when I sneak up behind her and rest my chin on her shoulder; her smile at the end of the day; more defiance in her refusal to talk to me at the end of her day; a book to share on her terms; a meaningful hug or a touch; her soft, rhythmic breathing once she falls into a deep sleep.  Along with exhaustion, the end of the day brings some level of satisfaction, of pride, at knowing that I played a significant role in her life, if for only that one day.

And as I say this, and think about these things, I realize that much of what I miss is the physical – a touch, a hand, a kiss, a breath, a sigh – and I understand how ridiculous this must seem, and how shallow.  All missed, nonetheless.  But the thing I miss most is knowing that upon waking in the morning, she is there.  This loving, caring being is there to listen to my lucid dreams from the night, as well as my less lucid dreams of the future; she humors me.  And that at the end of the day, this same loving, caring being is still there to hear about the minutia of my day, to share in my hopes, and build a shared history; our traditions; our legacies.

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The Greening of the River

Looks Like Green Jello

Lexi’s “World’s Most Awesome”* Aunti blew into town direct from the land of the northern frozen tundra-nugget, St. Paul, Minnesota, for another quick weekend of revelry.  A Pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration; an opportunity to visit with her niece and her siblings; above all a chance to witness the annual Kelly-greening of the Chicago river.  Is this done anywhere else in the world?!  Doubtful, right?  It must be seen to be believed.

Never mind that in our 40 plus years of growing up and living in and near Chicago none of us had ever seen this extraordinary life-changing event, other than on television.  But much like Bozo’s Circus, we had to see it.  We had to see it now, and more importantly, had to expose Lexi to all this so that she could experience this uniquely Chicago party, at least for once, in her life.

Battling the hot stinky crowds (on this chilly, chilly day) on the express-to-downtown 147 bus, and slipping through masses of leprechauns and assorted others in green tights, green make-up, green sweaters, t-shirts, and glass beads, we made our way to the river. 

We’re told it takes 40 pounds of orange-colored (what?) vegetable dye to color the river its green, and several motorboats to swirl around in circles to stir the brew up.  And for one time during the year, the river takes on this eerie shade of flourescent limey-green.  It came from the deep.  Radioactive looking bright green goo.  All before the celebratory color dissipates and returns the river to its usual murky looking brown.

“It looks like Jello”, Lexi shouted, totally impressed with the whole thing.

Yes it does, it looks like green Jello.  Which got me to thinking – had Lexi even had Jello before, and if not, how did she know what Jello is or looks like?  A Clifford, the Big Red Dog story?!  A Jello making experiment would be next for us.

She laughed again, repeating that it looks like Jello!  “Now let’s go and get a Shamrock Shake – hooray!”

Skipping the Shamrock Shake, we opted for a hot cocoa at the Shop at 900, before exploring the Sanrio Store – you know the one. 

“Let’s go, let’s go!”

Hello Kitty!

*We know she’s the “World’s Most Awesome Aunti” for many, many reasons, one of which is that she comes to spend time with us, which is in itself, pretty awesome.  Also, we found and gave to her an “Awesome Aunt” ribbon for her birthday, and she proudly wears it. 

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Sun Comes Up, It’s Sunday Morning

First Cup

When the sun comes up, it’s Sunday morning.  This Sunday morning it can mean only one thing: a dad-daughter day!  I think about this time throughout the week, planning, plotting, wondering what we’ll do together.  Pump-It-Up Playroom is booked this weekend for private parties.  What else can we do?

Will we bake cookies or brownies; watch a movie; play a video game; play a board game; read some books; play charades, hide-and-go-seek, or “Don’t Tackle Me, Dad!”; do an arts and crafts project; wander around the neighborhood; use the bed as a trampoline; find her African animals; ballroom dance in the dining room; visit Uncle Dan and his cat, Millie; try some pierogies for lunch, or see if the Kitchen Sink is running their mac and cheese special; dress up and pose for photographs.

Or maybe just hang out quietly around the house? 

Quietly hang out?! Nah, I don’t think so.

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Hipster Disney Princess

Which Hipster Princess Is This?

Belle?  Aurora?  Jasmine?  No, not Jasmine.

I love the look with these hip black Ray-Bans. 

And the sarcasm.

Hmmmm.  Maybe I actually CAN get into the Disney Princesses.  But who is this?  I’ll have to ask my 3-year old daughter…

Better yet, if any of you can tell me who this is, I’ll be the hipster, in my daughter’s eyes, for knowing! 

And, you’ll be pretty cool to me, and will be held in my highest esteem for letting me know!

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Easy to Love

When we were expecting, we wanted to collect the lyrics of a few songs that we could sing to soothe our daughter.  I dug around and came up with a bunch that could be good for this purpose.  My partner picked the soft 60’s samba (Summer Samba) So Nice, made famous and popularized by the Brazilian couple Astrud and Joao Gilberto.  You know the one:

Someone to hold me tight
That would be very nice
Someone to love me right
That would be very nice
Someone to understand
Each little dream in me
Someone to take my hand
And be a team with me

So nice, life would be so nice
If one day I’d find
Someone who would take my hand
And samba through life with me

Someone to cling to me
Stay with me right or wrong
Someone to sing to me
Some little samba song
Someone to take my heart
And give his heart to me
Someone who’s ready to
Give love a start with me

Oh yeah, that would be so nice
I could see you and me, that would be nice

That one turned out to be a winner, the song that was sung over and over to our newborn by her mom, and later played to send her to sleep via recording from Bebel Gilberto, the daughter of Astrud, who remade the 60’s song and popularized it again, 40 years later.

The song I choose was Easy to Love, a Cole Porter jazz standard sung by just about everyone, including Frank Sinatra for one, and recently by the Grammy-nominated Italian songstress Roberta Gambarini, who just happened to be in Chicago over Thanksgiving weekend.  I had to go and listen to her sing this song live.  And I had to make sure this song was on her playlist for her show, otherwise after all, I wouldn’t hear it live.

I saw her during a break from her first set, and walked up to her and asked her if she could sing it because it was the song I sang to my daughter to soothe her when she was an infant.  And it would mean a lot to me, even if I did change the lyrics, even if I didn’t always sing it right, even if it didn’t always work to soothe my girl.  It would still mean a lot.  And, well, she nearly did win a Grammy for it.  Well, wouldn’t she consider singing it?  She just smiled and said if it was good for my daughter, it should be good for this crowd of jazz fans.  She’d be happy to sing it.  But it was on her playlist anyway, of course.

It goes something like this:

I know too well that I’m just wasting precious time

in thinking such a thing could be

that you could ever care for me

I’m sure you hate to hear

that I adore you, dear

but grant me

just the same

I’m not entirely to blame, ’cause

You’d be so easy to love
So easy to idolize all others above
So worth the yearning for
So swell to keep every home fire burning for

And we would be so grand at the game
Carefree together that it does seem a shame
That you can’t see your future with me
‘Cause you’d be, oh, so easy to love

Sinatra sang it like this: 

You’d be so easy to love
So easy to idolize all others above

So sweet to ‘waken with

So nice to sit down to the eggs and bacon with…

And THAT’S the way I sang it.

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Kitty Galore Meets Licky Monster at the Ballyhoo Cafe

Ivana Clawyew aka Kitty Galore

I took a chance on Redbox, but not really.  I mean, with The Social Network, Catfish, Machete, Inception, and The American all available for one dollar, it makes me wonder why people bother going to the cinema anymore.  In a couple of weeks, Black Swan will be available, as well as Biutiful, The King’s Speech, and nearly anything else anyone would want to see. 

But forget about those movies.  I was going for the real deal for Lexi. 

Dinner and a show. 

Dinner being Dad’s All-Star Greatest Hits Casserole.  Who can go wrong with rotini pasta noodles, sliced potatoes, ground beef and marinara sauce, mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan cheeses topped off with crushed Jay’s cheddar flavored potato chips? 

The show being Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore in 3D.  The super spy cats and dogs going after the crazed Ivana Clawyew.  Diggs, Meow, and even Ivana clawed their way into Lexi’s heart.  She thought they were all pretty cool.

“Where’s Kitty Galore?  She’s a bad cat, but not too bad.”

And although most of the jokes were for me, she did chuckle at a few parts, especially involving the stool pigeon informant.

Next day – story-teller, story maker Tracey’s Ballyhoo at George’s Ice Cream on Clark.  Licky Monster tried to lick all the kids.  “Licky Monster, no licking!”  Noise, shouting!

After the show.  Do you want a single scoop of Blue Moon ice cream on a cone?

“Yeah, yay!”

Now THAT you can lick.

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