Monday, November 30, 2009


This is the view from the new living room, which is above the boiler. Notice the size and condition of that radiator!

The new bedroom, pre-move (the bed was made by an artist from the U.P. and is rather delicate. A big thank-you to PKB for moving and assembling it and the futon, below).

This is the dining room, which also boasts a massive radiator (on the left, in the corner).

This is how the living room looks at this very moment:

Even Kirby (bottom left) likes it. It took him only a few hours to get over his I-hate-moving disappearing act and start enjoying the place.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


(This photo shows the final sunset in the old apartment. I will miss the view and the wonderful people I met on Devon Avenue).

* * *

The move took only 3.5 hours; a new record. We actually were able to take a break from unpacking and enjoy a late lunch at the nearby Ethiopian restaurant - which is wonderful, by the way. The whole thing was surprisingly calm and civilized.

Things that helped make it it go well:

-Remembering everything I learned the last time around (and pretending to be my sister-in-law while packing)

-Sticking to a schedule (sorting, shedding, packing, pre-moving, moving and unpacking)

-Numbering each box, and keeping a Master List of the contents of each

-Using stickers to designate where to put each box

-Having everything packed ahead of time

-Using Move-Tastic! They. were. amazing. (and so much better than Four Hangovers and a Lorry).

-Having friends on hand for moral support - and unpacking


-Trying to remember that that I am not the doer, and offering everything up to you-know-Who

A big thank-you to all who helped: the students, friends and family who loaned boxes and moral support, Mon'ca for her excellent advice; PKB and Dorian Black, who made the pre-move possible; the landlord for being accomodating; the readers of this blog for giving their two cents on what to shed; everyone who listened to the complaints about the old place and offered counsel; and Dog and Bo for unpacking and celebrating this much-needed change with me.... and everyone else I can't think of right now because the brain stopped functioning some time ago. The heart is filled with gratitude. OM shanti.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Late last night there was a lot of commotion outside.

In spite of the new, nearly soundproof windows, I heard yelling and screaming, on and off, for some time.

I also heard something that sounded like pops.

Half asleep, I thought, "I hope they're OK" and "Om shanti shanti shanti" and "Please don't wreck my car."

Today I spoke to Dorian Black, who lives next door and is also moving out tomorrow.

"Did you hear the gunshots last night?" he asked.

He was awake when it happened.

"There were four gunshots at 1:55am," he said.

Afterwords, he saw two guys running down the alley.

He did not hear the police come.

And we agreed that we are getting out while the gettin' is good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Paramahansa Yogananda once said of the Thanksgiving holiday, "Be grateful of the Divine plan that will expedite the karmas of all the sacrificed turkeys, and be grateful that you are not one of the turkeys on the table."

and from Sri Dharma Mittra:

“God is right there in the center of your chest. This is our spiritual heart. The stomach residing underneath the heart center is the Lord’s Table. Practice ahimsa [no-harming], and consider what you are about to offer to the Lord, as your own body is his altar. As you sit to the feast, practice aparigraha [non-hoarding] and take only what you need and share equally with others. As we continue to practice yama & niyama [the ethical roots] and rest our mind on God, we will become more compassionate and our bodies will be cleansed physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our heart centers will become clearer and we will be lighter.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


from my dear writing teacher, Mel Livatino:

"I long ago concluded there is absolutely no happiness without gratitude. It's as absolute a law as the law that says all circles have 360 degrees."

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I actually said this to someone last week*.

He was polite, and said Kirby looked "fine" to him.

Clearly, he'd had prior experience in this area.


*It dawned on me that Kirby might be overweight after meeting Smitty Smith (yes, that is his real name), an equally athletic Tabby whose belly does not hang down to the floor.

This photo shows Kirby's room, which is now in a state of anarchy. To show his displeasure with the pre-moving activity, he spent much of the day snuggled under the covers in the bedroom. I wanted to join him, but only did so after filling Box #50.

Friday, November 20, 2009


On Thursday I treated myself to the $3.49 fixed plate meal at my current favorite Indian veg. restaurant. It's on the west end of Devon, and the mood inside is very sattvic.

The quiet was interrupted by two men who burst in. They were carrying Christmas toys. The tall white one in the suit did the talking. The African American one in the cornrows kept quiet and watched.

The tall one tried to sell the Christmas toys to the cashier. "These are usually $34.95, but I'm selling them for $11 each. I only have six left. How many do you want? Two?

The woman was impassive. She looked skeptically at the toy. "No."

"Are you saying you don't like a good deal?" the man asked. He was high-energy. "Do you like a good deal?"

"Yes," said the woman quietly.

"Then how many do you want?"

The woman started to turn away when the cook walked over. She grabbed the toy and looked at it. "How much?" she asked.

"Eleven dollars each. How many do you want?"

"Two for eleven," she said. (Sitting at a nearby table, I couldn't help but let out a loud guffaw).

The man was shocked by her offer. "I can't do that," he stammered. "You're already getting a great deal." Then he remembered his spiel. "How many do you want?"

"Two for eleven." The cook would not budge. She was smiling.

And the man, having met his match, threw up his hands and walked out.

His apprentice followed.

They went east on Devon Avenue towards the heart of Little India/Pakistan, where they were sure to meet more expert bargainers. I didn't envy them at all.

As soon as they were gone, I looked over at the women and said, "Well done!"

We all giggled, and smiled from ear to ear.

And I felt sad to be leaving a neighborhood where things like this can happen.

Very sad indeed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Somehow I inherited two sets of mixing bowls from women who rarely cooked.

I use them about as much as they did.

Which should I keep?

The lightweight, indestructible, boring stainless set?

Or the pretty, vintage, extremely heavy, sentimental and breakable porcelain ones?

So far, the advice has been to keep the stainless.

The arguments have been....

"You can't break it."



What would you do?


UPDATE: I'm taking (most of) your advice, and chucking the nouveau-pink Chucks. Ladies size 10, by the way.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The mind has been very good about getting rid of many, many things, but for some reason it cannot decide which pair of Converse All-Stars to keep, and which to toss.

(It was even able to give up the pair of Adidas purchased in Nurnberg).

Should it be the older, old-school black ones on the right, or the newfangled black-and-pink model on the left?

They're about equally beat up and equally smelly.

Any advice?

Monday, November 16, 2009


On Saturday I made the annual trek to Wicker Park to sell my old books at Myopic ($65) and old clothes at the resale shops ($6). The clothes places are super-picky this year - either that or my second wave of castoff clothes is not as good as the first. Nonetheless it was still energizing to get money for my old things. I can use it to buy boxes for the move.

I took the leftovers to the Salvation Army dropoff center on Clybourn. The parking lot was PACKED, with people both dropping off and buying things at the store. Interesting economic times, these.

On Sunday I went through the closets, and filled two gigantic contractor bags with castoffs. (I had 92 boxes of stuff on my last move; my goal for this one is 70. Also the new apartment has only two closets, while the current place boasts four).

Today I called The Ark thrift store on Lincoln Avenue, to find out if they are still accepting donations. Last week I noticed several large "Liquidation" signs in the window.

My hunch was correct; they've closed the Lincoln Avenue location but are still taking items at 1302 N. Milwaukee.

Not exactly convenient.

But at least The Ark doesn't chase you down the street, forcing you to take back your stuff like these guys once did.

I also called the city's computer and hazardous waste recycling center to find out if they take old cassette tapes.

They do not, and recommended throwing them out.

Twenty years of mix tapes will wind up in a landfill, ouch.

To read my article on getting rid of stuff and how it fits into the yoga system, click here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I've been busy transferring VHS tapes to DVD, using a machine that Gridlife loaned to me.

We made a lot of videos in the early 1990s, and there were a lot to transfer.

One of them was shot by me at a get-together before a Dead Can Dance concert, in December of 1990.

I was shooting the different guests, and asking them how the heat in their apartments was working.

Suddenly, the camera was turned on me (in black Louise Brooks hairdo, big black boots, miniskirt and perky hat from the Tweeds catalog). In those days, I was working for a local filmmaker, waiting tables, deejaying, making my own films and videos, and living in an illegal basement firetrap that rented for $295 a month.

Watching the video at home, for the first time in 19 years, I couldn't believe the things I heard coming out of my old self's mouth:

"Bla bla bla my landlord comes over unannounced bla bla bla I don't have any heat in my place, bla bla bla landlord bla bla freezing cold bla bla bla.

Two decades later later, nothing has changed....*

I may be slightly less obnoxious, but the exact same words are coming out of my mouth.

It was a sobering moment, to say the least.


*Actually, I'm moving to a smaller, warmer place at the end of the month - and am desperately seeking cardboard boxes. If you have any, lemme know.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


from Wordsmith:

'Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally OK to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.'

-Charles R. Magel, professor of philosophy

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Boodiba's current teacher recently mentioned something about the Six Poisons to her. The perimenopausal mind recalled learning about them at some point, but could not remember the specifics.

Then I found this:

The six poisons:

A vital aspect of internal purification that Pattabhi Jois teaches relates to the six poisons that surround the spiritual heart. In the yoga shastra it is said that God dwells in our heart in the form of light, but this light is covered by six poisons; kama, krodha, moha, lobha, matsarya, and mada. These are desire, anger, delusion, greed, envy and sloth. When yoga practice is sustained with great diligence and dedication over a long period of time, the heat generated from it burns away these poisons, and the light of our inner nature shines forth.

One hopes that by yoga, they mean all eight limbs - not just asana (the poses) - and/or yoga as taught in the Bhagavad Gita.

When it is just about asana practice - especially Mysore-style ashtanga - it can add to the poisons (desiring and being greedy for more poses, envy of those who are "ahead" in the practice, being angry at the teacher for not giving more poses, being deluded about the importance of the pose, and sleeping all afternoon because of the intense, early morning practice). At least in the beginning anyway. (That could explain why there are six series).

Sri Ramakrishna said the greatest obstacles to spiritual growth are "women" and "gold" (desire and greed).

My teacher mentions anger, lust and greed. (He also says that without Yama [ethical roots], there is no Yoga).

I'm challenged by all of them, but the biggies would be sloth and anger (although I haven't put a fist through a wall or window - or broken a phone - since I started practicing yoga.... knock wood now).

What are your biggies?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


The former Sun-Times media critic started his new Vocalo blog on Monday.

He hit his stride today, with a salty piece on the demise of Chicago's hallmark radio station, WGN.

An excerpt:

Everything that’s gone wrong at WGN-AM (720) in the past year can be summed up in two words: “Pig Virus.”

No, we’re not talking H1N1 here. “Pig Virus” is the nickname Howard Stern gave long ago to Kevin Metheny, the man in charge of programming at the Tribune Co.-owned news/talk station since January.

Under Metheny, an acolyte of Tribune Co. operating boss Randy Michaels (and one of nearly two dozen Clear Channel alumni Michaels brought in with him), WGN has shown disdain or disregard for listeners who felt a unique bond with the station and its personalities.

There was the needlessly ham-fisted way Kathy O’Malley and Judy Markey were run off the air after a phenomenal 20 years as midday duo. (Since they’re still being paid every penny of their contracts, what was so urgent that WGN couldn’t let them finish out as they’d planned and retire this spring?) There was the hiring of morning host Greg Jarrett, a capable broadcaster but one who’d never worked a day in his life in Chicago, to step right into the No. 1 job in local radio. (Jarrett almost lost me for good his first day on the air when he mispronounced “Devon Avenue.”) And there have been numerous other personnel and programming moves — in afternoons and on weekends, especially — that simply boggle the mind.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


My guide to Chicago's Little India neighborhood is now online.

You can read it here.

Some tips:

-The main drag is on Devon Avenue between Damen and Francisco.

-Most places open around 11, and are closed on Tuesdays (the sign will say "Tuesday Closed")

-There's a free parking lot (5-10 weekdays and 12-10 weekends) at St. Timothy's, on the corner of Rosemont and Washtenaw.

-The best selection of fabric can be found east of Western AVenue.

-Other types of ethnic goodies - kosher, Russian, Jewish, Georgian, Iraqi - can be found west of California Avenue

-The late-night mecca Delhi Darbar Kebab House recently reopened at 2916 W. Devon Avenue. They're open from 5pm to 4am, and the food is made per order - and inexpensive.

I already miss living in this neighborhood....

....and I haven't even moved yet.

Monday, November 02, 2009


On Halloween I did door duty at a friend's house.

The kids came in droves, between 5 and 7pm.

Princesses were big this year. And characters from "Scream." The best was a very original court jester, complete with over-the-top makeup. He was going it alone, too.

Most endearing were the kids who could barely get up the stairs, and could hardly form the worlds "Twick ow Tweat" - once they remembered what to say, that is. Sometimes the parents had to prompt them. So, so cute.

I was not a fan of those who came with two bags, saying, "One is for my little brother."

Indeed, a few tart things came out of the mouth - especially when big kids with no costumes (or just a mask) came around:

- "No trick-or-treating while talking on the cell phone!"

- "No smoking while trick-or-treating!"*

and my favorite, to a group of three very big "children" wearing hoodies and carrying pillowcases:

- "You're kind of old for this."

- "We're the last generation," they replied.

That one made my night.

*This reminds me of what came out of the mouth on my first trip to Mysore, when I saw a fellow AYRI student sucking on a cigarette - after hearing him brag ad nauseum about being a yoga instructor back home. "So, yoga teachers smoke now?" Suddenly, I was the only one left at the table.