Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On Bicycle Shopping

I've heard from multiple sources that the answer to my stolen bicycle woes is to own a bike that is less desirable. Cover it in duct tape. Buy a beater. Or, as Mary said "quit riding cool hipster bicycles." The thing is, this is just not in my disposition. Aesthetics are important to me, and so I can't seem to make myself go with a beater. That being said, I've spent some time searching for things in my price range (which there are few) and I've come up with these options:

The last is my clear favorite, but it is also the most expensive. Further, I have the brown seat and brown tape that I purchase for my previous bicycle, so I could just put it on another bike with a seat and tape that I don't like.


I haven't actually made it to a bicycle shop yet, so I'll see what I come up with there and also pursue the generous offer I spoke of yesterday and I think I'll be riding again in no time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Rosaries

I don't know how to pray the rosary, but for some reason I find it generally appealing. The idea of beads for prayer makes sense as a point of focus. When I bought this Rosary in Mexico, Tim groaned and explained to me that his family used to have to pray the Rosary at the dinner each night. I understand the problematic relationship that some of my friends may have with catholic religious paraphernalia, but I still find some of it quite beautiful.

On Thieves and the Generosity of Strangers

Remember a few weeks ago when I told you how I was excited to soup my bicycle up a bit once I picked it up from its spring tuneup? I had purchased a special seat and special handlebar tape and looked forward to the weather getting just warm enough to make the riding experience enjoyable?

Well, that story took a (what should be unusual but seems to be usual) turn yesterday.

Yesterday, I snuck away from work on my lunch hour to pick up my bicycle from the shop. It has been ready since Friday, but given my weekend of singing hours and hours of Bach, I didn't have the proper chance to pick it up. So, yesterday was my day and I excitedly retrieved it. Upon entry into the bicycle shop I realized I didn't have the key to my U lock with me so I decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to buy a secondary lock anyway. I stood and looked over the locks, trying to justify paying $60 for the cheapest U lock, but opted for a temporary $20 chain lock until I got home to switch out. I was already spending $100 on maintenance so the $20 option seemed much smarter.

Fast forward to 6:15pm when I parked my bicycle inside the front fence at Musical Chairs. This is essentially a home, and I parked it in the yard and used my chain lock to lock it through both the front and back wheel of the bicycle. Patting myself on the back for getting back on and admiring how good it feels to ride in the spring time, I didn't even consider my situation a security concern.

At 8:45pm I left our adult student gathering, where the students we teach who fall into the adult category get together, drink wine, and make music for each other. It is really a lovely evening. When I walked outside, my bicycle was gone. In 2.5 hours and in the midst of a house full of people, someone had managed to snip the lock and get inside the front yard to take my bicycle.

My reaction is really only to laugh. It is absolutely absurd that my bicycle would be stolen. This is number 4 for me in less than 5 years and although I'm incredibly disappointed, I've learned that there is literally nothing one can do in these sort of situations and I've written many blogs about this matter to prove it! (I've had a few things stolen before...)

But then this morning, I was walking along thinking how having things stolen is particularly strange when interacting with others, because so many people around me genuinely will feel bad for me about this loss. They will tell me they are very sorry for this and I will absolutely appreciate their sympathy, but none of us can bring this THING back... so, how can I handle these conversations?

That being said, I opened up an email this morning that really surprised and altered my somewhat somber state of mind. A gentleman from the event last night offering me a bicycle. A perfect stranger, really. Now, I don't know that this bicycle will work for me as I'm a tall fella, but the generosity and kindness struck me in a unique way.

For however selfish we all can be, there are those who manage to rise above that and let generosity take control. I can only hope I am one of those people.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Now What?

This post will be the first of what I imagine to be many on the topic, but I wanted to put a few things out there that I've been thinking about.

I had a lovely dinner last night with my fellow friend and musician. We discussed what's the latest in trashy television, friendship and dating storied, what we're doing, why we do it, what we didn't do well. It was just of those lovely dinners and conversations that lasted just long enough to reinvigorate my thinking.

Let me interject by saying that I am reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, which documents her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and their relationship with altruism and art. It is no doubt a romanticized tale and I have no delusions about what is not being told, but I do feel somewhat inspired and reinvigorated by the reminder that some people believe strongly that their duty and calling in life is to serve their art. Err, let me rephrase, saying that it is beyond duty. It is beyond human. A possible direct link or calling by God to be lived for.

Now, back to my dinner. My friend is a incredible soul to bounce musical ideas and a bit of gossip off of, because first and foremost, I don't believe he minces words and second of all, because I find myself a bit, how can I say, not envious, but interested in his path. He makes his wage by making music, primarily in sacred settings and he does a great job of it. Unlike him, I supplement my income through similar jobs, but still commit my days to an office which I have a capricious relationship with. He readily offers the drawbacks to his situation and I share the challenges with mine, but in line with what has been plaguing my brain recently, I can't help but think he has offered himself up to something I have not...

To add an additional layer to this, I'm in the midst of fielding the "Now what?" question, quite regularly in response to the completion of my M.A. As I have said previously, I feel quite positive that I am making the appropriate response by saying that this degree was not necessarily intended to lead me to my next step, but to enhance whatever step that might be. I'm somewhat convinced that my next step may be to sit still for a small bit and collect my thoughts, but regardless, I don't regret the degree nor do I regret it not pointing me in a specific direction. Nothing I've ever done has pointed me in a specific direction. I like to think I'm generally too interested in too many things to be specific. But, (and here's the big but) maybe that has been an excuse. Maybe my general interest in too many things is my "Now what?"

I'm not going to articulate this clearly at this point, but in short, maybe I need to stop rejecting many things and be all things. Maybe I need to accept my call to altruism and art.

More on this soon...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On My Father's Belt

I can't remember exactly when I started stealing my Father's clothes. In general, it is a quite funny thought as he 5'7" is much smaller than my 6'3", but I think there comes a time in many of our lives when we start to appreciate the items our parents have managed to keep for a long time. I used to have the bad habit of managing to snatch them. Now, I'm a bit more forthright about my efforts, subtly talking him into giving me things rather than conveniently borrowing them and not giving them back.

This belt is a perfect example. I think I borrowed it for practical purposes one time while I was home from college, but I didn't seem to ever return it. Somewhere along the way, I managed to actually take a good look at this strip of leather and began to really appreciate what I had snagged.

Belts are a funny thing, right? We don't need a new belt very often... if ever, so they carry a lot of life around with them. If you're the type of gentleman who wears a belt every day (like my father and I are) the belt could potentially have been privy to many different life situations. In someways, a belt has a better chance at being what we would hope most of our favorite clothing pieces are; possibly long lasting, better with age, and story telling.

My Father spent significant time working in this belt. I remember him doing much manual labor while this held up his jeans. It is the belt he would use on the farm when he would be out with the horses or in the woods mending broken fences. Or, the belt could have began its life as something a bit dressier and when it began to wear it could have been downgraded. How long he had it? I have no idea. I've had it since 2000 and I still wear it quite regularly.

For the record, my Father gave his blessing on this little piece of thievery, otherwise I wouldn't be proclaiming my stealing ways to the internet. I'm proud to now own it and hope to keep wearing it along with the stories it keeps.

On Feeling Cheap, Hungry and a bit Lazy

Since I moved in July, I am in walking distance to an Aldi. I used to be super leery of this place, but upon further investigation, I find it to be an affordable delight for some grocery basics. The model is quite simple, with the customer doing the bulk of the work and therefore paying significantly less. Now, I'm not keen on buying my produce there, but in general there are some staples that make a lot of sense... olive oil, soy milk, cheese, bread, etc. I also happened across these $2 thin crust cheese pizzas that I decided to give a try, because, well, they were $2.

Rather than eating these as is, it occurred to me that I should spice them up bit. This would potentially cover-up their $2ness, and provide some more nutritional content than just cheese and bread. Well, the result was faboo and I've taken to do this every once in a while when time is limited, motivation is small and hunger runs deep.

Last night was one of those nights. I made my way home after work to get a few things done before I headed off to see Alice in Wonderland (3-D.) Given my limited time frame, I threw this little gem together.



Aldi Pizza + Whole Foods Produce = Yummmm.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On Bleaching my Whites

I have a confession. There are two things that I've never known how to do that I'm quite embarrassed about. The first seems less embarrassing than the second, but still, I know many of you reading this will shake your head just a little bit at me... that's ok, really, I'd shake my head too.

I don't know how to deposit a check through the ATM. I know that this is probably quite simple, but I've never done it and the whole process intimidates me, so rather, I just make my way into the bank when they are open and deal with a person who can do it for me. The thing about this is, I get a lock of checks. I'm a musician, and often get monies via personalized check, so I'm doing this often (if there is work!) and yet, I always do it by going into the bank. So, someday, sometime, with the right person I would like to be shown how to do this. In the meantime, I will just make awkward conversation about the weather with the bank tellers who know me better than I wish they did.

Second, I don't (didn't!) know how to bleach my white clothing. Truth be told, no one ever really showed me how to do my laundry. I think my mother gave me a brief tutorial before college, but I never received a knock-down-drag-out this is how you do it sorta instructional session, so for the most part I've been successfully wingin' it for 10 years. That being said, I've never bleached my white clothes... for a few reasons.

My mother ruined a number of things with bleach. In fact, my mother was a bit obsessed with bleach, using it in problematic places like the toilet and often sporting bleach spots on her own clothing. She used it regularly as it was the ultimate cleaning tool for her. Naturally, because some of my clothes had unnecessary spots, I'm a bit leery about getting too close to it in general.

Also, I don't really understand how you can use bleach in your wash machine and not have it effect your clothes in the next wash. This doesn't make sense. Are we certain all the bleach has been washed away when the load is done?

This being said, last night I decided to tackle my fear, because I am particularly tired of one white oxford shirt looking especially dingy, given its young age. I asked for my roommate's moral support as we examined the wash machine to figure out exactly where to put the bleach in. I pulled out a measuring cup to pour the exact amount called upon by the label. I made sure I had only put items that were completely white and in no danger of being ruined... and then I ran the machine and waited with my fingers crossed.

56 minutes later, I removed the most beautiful white clothing. Each item given new life, and my fears were relieved. I thought how silly I've been for so many years to be afraid of doing this, because the outcome was quite worth it. In typical Davin fashion, I was quite tempted to bleach everything white that I could find, but I resisted.

Today though, I could hardly justify not wearing my favorite white oxford and feelin' quite fine while doing so.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On A Long Walk

Once upon a time, Mary told me that she thought it was interesting (and I paraphrase) to see the ways in which her friend's bodies seemed to accommodate their lives. She was pointing out that my body appeared as though I walked a lot, which I do. It really is one of my favorite parts of living in an urban area, the necessity for and joy in walking.

I was thinking about this, this morning as I walked from the Wicker Park neighborhood to my area of employment in Lincoln Park. I didn't intend to walk the whole way, but mostlu due to my impatience in waiting for the bus, I did. This is in addition to the fact that Scott and I trekked around downtown for most of the afternoon yesterday. I believe we were walking for a good four hours and so when all is said and done, I imagine we tacked a few miles onto our feet.

As a kid, I remember my mother going on walks with neighbor ladies. This was her primary form of exercise, but at times I would tag along and we would make our way either down the street or through the "back 40." For some reason, I also associate it with cold weather and jackets. Maybe a red nose and a walking stick. These things stick out in my memory.

Since my recent move to the western edge of Lincoln Park, I've adopted walking to and from work and class, rather than waiting for the bus. I will probably return to my bicycle as soon as the weather warms a bit more, but through the winter it has been my choice option. It is quite a hike and takes me a good half an hour, but I've come to the conclusion that this is one of the few times where I am able to do two things; talking to my parents on the phone and think. Two things that I don't always do a good job of doing.

I feel more acutely aware, than ever before, that I have very little time to myself to think through things. Similarly, when walking with others, the conversations tend to dig into areas that don't happen in the same way when sitting at a table. Maybe it has to do with the logistics of not facing one another, but facing the world. Maybe this encourages tackling topics that we wouldn't normally, but this morning as I walked along and just thought, I was reminded that walking time is incredibly important to me. It is important to me as an observer of the world. It is important to me as someone who hopes to choose healthy modes of transportation. It is important to me as someone who thinks through things in life that are complicated and meant to have specifics energies dedicated to. And, maybe it is important to me as someone whose body is just setup to do it.

So, I choose to walk. Even when I can ride, sometimes I'll walk, because I think nothing is quite better for the whole than a long walk.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Inspiration Friday (Black and White Edition)

On The Perils of Blogging and Stupid Mistakes

Earlier this week and last week I both blogged and Tweeted about "Macaroons."

Last night, before I made my way over to a charming little evening with parents of students at Musical Chairs, where we talked about practice techniques for students, I stopped into a coffee shop to grab a cup and read a paper.

In the paper, I read an article which posed the question: "Will macarons take over the cupcakes?" I read through the article which spoke to the rise and popularity of cupcake shops in the city and how there seems to be a more recent shift to a new confection that is Macarons.

SO, here's the thing. I'm reading and reading, patting myself on the back for being on the pulse of baked goods when I reach a section of the article about how most people don't know what a macaron is. In fact! Most people spell it "macaroon" when it is "macaron." Wait a second! Am I one of those people? I pull out my iPhone and look to my Twitter to realize, I am!

Here's the thing - this:

is a marcarOOn.


is a macarOn.

I've clearly been speaking about the latter, because the former does not appear nearly as delightful.

The worst part is, many of you probably knew this! and have been scoffing at my faux foodie mistypings. This is the danger of putting one's self out on the internet in this way. We leave ourselves open to looking foolish in an even more public arena than normal. So, here I am. Admitting my cluelessness. Pledging to be a better spell and fact checker... and exclaiming my love for the Macaron!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On Bulgari Black

During the summer after my first year of college I took a somewhat life changing trip to Italy. The goal of the trip was to participate in an opera program in the town of Casalmaggiore , which I did, but that experience doesn't stand out quite as strong in my memory as the general travel I did before and after the program with my dear friend Lydia. Lydia was so much more worldly than I was at this point in life. I was green and Midwestern and had never been outside the country. She had traveled extensively and was knowledgeable about culture outside of her own.For anyone who has traveled internationally, you know how transformational that first trip can be. You realize that the world is not simply where you are, but so vast and different from your narrow experience. It opens you up to thinking differently, or at least it did for me.

I also remember that while I was in Italy, my mother told me she had breast cancer. I can remember standing at pay phone talking to her and knowing something was wrong, but having to push her to let me know what it was. The cancer was subsequently removed, but this is one of the things that stands out to me from that trip.

Fast forward to 2010. I was at Scott's house and saw a bar of soap, that possibly had been swiped from a hotel (I won't accuse!) in a box that read "Bulgari." I immediately picked it up and took a quick sniff. I was transported back to Milan, where Lydia introduced me to her favorite scent Bulgari Black. A unisex scent that was oddly familiar. I remembered at that time being in the Twin Cities in high school and smelling that scent then...

After remembering that smell, I was on a quest to get myself some of that cologne. It was especially nostalgic for me (what is with me and nostalgia lately?) and a scent that I felt I could wear without it being overwhelming. See, in general, I'm not a cologne person. I'm a big fan of natural odors as I think God gave them to us for a reason, but this seemed right.

On a quick side note, why would anyone buy cologne or underwear at a department store that you can buy at TJMaxx or Marshall's or Loehmanns? I was able to find Bulgari Black at Loehmann's for a reasonable price and have been wearing it ever since. I'm kind of in love with it actually.

I have no experience describing scents, so here is what I found that someone else had written about how it smells.

"here is a short lived citrus top note; after that, the focus is on black tea, in this case lapsang souchong, which lends a smoky, almost earthy edge to the dry woods. It is mildly spicy, with hints of burning rubber and leather, and a whisper of something like tobacco leaf. The far dry down is smoother and softer, with an almost comfort-scent blend of vanilla, musk and woods. A tinge of powder lends a velvety finish, but just enough of the smoke and rubber remains to keep it from being dull and pedestrian."

Nice, right?

Amazing what a little smell can do to remind of time and place and feeling.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Being Done with Graduate School

Last night I made my way home from work at 6pm. Along the walk I realized that this was the first time in quite some time that I had been headed home at this hour. Actually, I can't remember the last time. With a few exceptions, most every night for the last two and a half years I have made my way somewhere else other than home during the hours after work. In general, this is the life of someone who makes music and teaches and sees friends and... but the real time sucker has been that two evenings of every week have been dedicated to class.

I remember two and a half years ago when I was at Linsey's house and we were grilling on her back porch and I told my friends I had committed to a grad school program at DePaul. I think when I actually said I was going to do it, I didn't believe that I would complete it. It seemed like the right thing to do as it is/was a benefit of my work, but really, I didn't see myself finishing the entire degree.

I don't know that I actually ever committed to the degree, but I plowed through the program, going to class year round for this entire time and I finished the program, while working full-time, while singing, while making art, while teaching, and in general I feel pretty damn good about it. But, this isn't meant to be an overall pat on my back, but rather a testament to the passage of time and the possibility of new found opportunity... not because I'll have a masters degree, but because my time won't be committed in the ways it has been for so long.

So, as I was walking home and I walked into my apartment and realized I actually didn't even recognize the way the light looked in my place during that time of day, I felt a general sense of relief a bit of fear, and some more excitement. I made some pasta, caught up on some e-mails and watched some television. All in all, nothing happened, and that was totally alright.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Io Sono L'Amore

At the recommendation of my dear friend Linsey, I took in and Italian film at the Gene Siskel Film Center as a part of the European Film Festival. Called Io Sono L'Amore, this film was significantly more than I had expected and pretty much wont get out of my head. Although the story was not unique, this movie was the ultimate Italian epic family drama. The impact was so overwhelming and cinematography was incredibly stunning. Any moment in the film could have been captured as a gallery worthy still image, with some clear references to photographers like Tina Barney, Elinor Carrucci and Laura Letinsky. As only the Italians can do, the emphasis on food, wine, family and sex was handled beautifully and skillfully. On top of this, it stars the incomparable Tilda Swinton who proves that she can be just as fabulous and skilled while speaking Italian as she is in all her other roles. Further, she manages to own clothes made by both Jil Sander and Fendi throughout, so she looks simply incredible.

If you're in a place where you have an opportunity to see this film, I cannot recommend it more highly. I can think of few films I've seen that were so skillfully and beautifully made.