Dine alone in Chicago and you won’t dine alone

 

My conversation with the people of Chicago as I dine alone, but not really.

Chicago in July collage

Sit by a window in a restaurant next to a sidewalk in Chicago and you won’t feel like you’re dining alone.  Dining with me tonight are the business men with their matching ties, the women with their fashionably sensible flats and the dedicated athletic types with their running outfits. They would likely frown that I have a whole bread basket to myself but they’ve already turned the corner.

Almost everyone has ear buds in that is connected to their phone. What did we do before phones?  I want to leave my seat and ask them what they are listening to. NPR? This American Life? Which would make sense since it’s produced here. Podcasts? Which one? Music? What type?  But no one smiles. Stoic city or everyone is lost in thought as the hurriedly get to their next location.

Is it the sad news that 82 people were shot in Chicago in one day? Is that what weighs down on your minds? How the gang violence has claimed so many in your shared city?

I was wrong to say that. I’m sorry. The violence is awful but we all have struggles in our lives. And it would be strange if we all walked around smiling. It’d be a very creepy affair.  However, as I ponder what that would look like, I do see a beautiful woman with a radiant smile. I’m captiviated. Her energy is so nourishing. She’s smiling at someone. Someone she’s recognized, a friend, I’m sure. But I can’t see who as the restaurant booth I’m in is obstructed by some decals on the glass. I lift up out of my seat and see that she’s talking to two homeless women, or so I assume.

The women have huge backpacks filled with tarps and blankets but these are laid out and they rest there with their bulldog/pitbull mix (I can’t make a confident guess as to the breed or perhaps it was a mutt). Normally, I would expect this exchange to last five minutes, at most. Instead, the smiling woman squats and talks with the women for twenty minutes. Always smiling.

It wasn’t a moment that people would caption with the cliche “faith in humanity restored,” but something more understated and lovely and I’m honored to have witnessed it. Kindness.  Kindness for the sake of it. Given away freely and willingly. I can’t say what impact it had on those homeless women or those who walked by (although the foot traffic did turn their heads to look on as they walked by whereas before they just walked on by), but I feel lighter. And I ate half a loaf of bread.

carpaccio polpo
The border that blocked my view. Oh, and also, carpaccio polpo.

I realize I was rude earlier about the violence comment. Of course it is terrible, no one denies that so why would  I mention that to my dining companions in such a confrontational way?

Well, in truth, I am intimidated by your city. Everyone knows where they’re going. I struggle with my left and right, and don’t even bother with telling me such and such is on the southwest corner of … I’ll just give you a deadpan look. It’s hard not to feel underfoot.  However, I love to sit here, now with my cappuccino, and admire how things clatter about like the inner workings of a clock. It’s best not to touch, just look.

cappuccino

I know that I’m not giving myself a fair chance. I could “conquer” the city one day, if that was my desire, but I’m content to sit and admire all the going’s on.

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From Chicago To Brazil – A Week Of Adventures and Misadventures

I’m getting better about traveling for work.  However, there is always some unplanned event that catches me off guard. Enter this week’s misadventure.

On A Plane. Again.

memorable flight

We fly Southwest and that’s fine by me.  However, Southwest seems to offer this make-a-new-friend or have-a-great-story-by-sitting-next-to-a-complete-stranger seating arrangement program. Generally, passengers  follow some basic flight etiquette, which is to say that we understand that we don’t have to talk to one another.  The woman on my right was polite but oblivious to my clues that I didn’t care to converse for the three and a half hour flight.  She flipped through two magazines and fidgeted in her seat and went so far as to put her leg on top of the tray table to get more comfortable. I lost sight of her as she rummaged through her carry on to pull out: “sleeping pills.”  She shook them like maracas. What do you say to that? Hooray!?  So, I smiled.  Soon after, the flight attendant came to take our drink order.  Her libation of choice: vodka tonic.  Someone was clearly a little nervous about flying.

After throwing back the pills and chasing it with some vodka and club soda there was a moment of silence. But only a moment. Her dreams of not having enough cheese at the party and conducting an orchestra must have been vivid given her mutterings and hand gestures. But, truthfully, my heart goes out to her.  She startled herself awake and she apologized  that she often talks in her sleep and then, promptly, feel back to sleep. 

Balmy Chicago Weather

The weather was completely fine in Chicago. Yes, provided I didn’t go outside, the weather was a balmy 20 degrees. And it snowed. 

I understand you now, Snowbirds. I understand why you come down to Arizona to partake in our 80-degree-winters and Spring Training games. To self medicate, I took to hot cocoa and bubble baths. Just dreadful, really.

Carnaval do Brazil After Mexican Food in Scottsdale

Tita The Bandita

Barrio Queen in Scottsdale had been calling my name for some time. Thankfully this weekend I was able to try their tacos and churros before heading to The Venue for the 5th Anniversary of  Carnaval Do Brazil.  The restaurant’s decor and artwork really spoke to me. Like this piece by Phoenix artist Angel Diaz.  She reminds me of my alter ego — Tita The Bandita.  Mayhaps, I’ll reach out Mr. Diaz and see if he’d commission a piece. 

With the margaritas consumed and the churros inhaled, the time had come to shake our stuff at Carnaval! And while I think we did a good job sometimes it’s best to leave the shaking of assets to the professionals.

Like these samba dancers:

I wonder what this week will bring.

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