The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

May 6, 2005

Musings on unrelated topics that conclude on a rather sad note

Originally posted to Diary-X

Comments made by passersby during recent walks with Moose:

Dodgy guy loitering at street corner: Looks like you abuse your dog.
Me: ...uh...

Teenage couple walking toward us.
Girl to boy: Eww, look at that nasty dog! It looks like a big black horse! Nasty.
Me, silently: Bitch.

Little boy chasing a soccer ball into our path: Hey, what kind of dog is that?
Me: He’s a greyhound. He used to be a racing dog.
Boy: How old is he?
Me: He’s seven.
Boy, with look of pure wonder on his face: Wow! I’m seven, too! Wow.


Tomorrow John and I are going to a Cubs game, which I’m pretty excited about. I’m no die-hard sportsfan, but there’s something about Wrigley Field that captivates even an unathletic bookworm such as myself… the organ music, the ivy, the lack of glowing billboards and stupid mascot antics and electronic advertisements. It just feels simple and American and authentic. Also, there’s cold Old Style and warm soft pretzels.

During our first summer in Chicago, John and I went to four or five Cubs games. (Tickets were easier to get then, before the Cubbies almost made it to the World Series.) I’ll never forget what I wore to my first game: shorts, flip-flops, and a short-sleeved shirt. I was utterly shocked at how many of the twenty-something women of Chicago’s North Side dress to attend a baseball game: skimpy sundresses, heeled shoes, outfits I’d wear out on a Saturday night. Amusing, actually. Maybe it’s my marital status talking here, but tomorrow I’ll be decked out in jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, a pair of Roos, and a hooded sweatshirt in case it’s chilly. Ladies. It’s a baseball game. Must we strive to look sexy all of the damn time?


A few nights ago, while hamstering along on the treadmill, I watched a disturbing documentary on the liberation of concentration camps after WWII, called “Memory of the Camps.” (And no, the irony did not escape me—running in place in a quest for fitness and slimness while watching horrifyingly emaciated people try to digest a bowl of soup.) I ended up working out an extra 20 minutes in order to watch the end of the documentary, which is basically just footage shot by the liberators along with a sparse script written in 1945. I highly recommend watching this program. I’ve seen a lot of films and read a lot about the Holocaust, but I’ve never seen footage like this. It is, simply, unbelievable.

When I was studying in Vienna at the end of college, our group took a field trip (if you can call it that; the term seems too cheerful, somehow) to Mauthausen, one of the smaller concentration camps located in Austria. The prisoners were worked to death hauling stone out of a quarry, or they were starved, shot, gassed, or frozen to death. Jews, Russians, Gypsies, Catholic priests, and gay men were exterminated there, among others.

It was a life-jolting experience to visit this place. I remember being utterly silent during the entire three hours we spent there, and not taking photos of the gas chambers because it somehow felt disrespectful. The weather was mild and sunny, and the Austrian countryside spread out green and placid around us. There were actually some houses and farms overlooking the camp complex. I can’t imagine living so close to such a tangible reminder of human depravity.

En route to the camp, our busload of college students stopped to eat at a little Austrian restaurant, and some people bitched and complained that they couldn’t understand the menu, that none of the food appealed to them, etc. A few hours later, standing at the bottom of that rock quarry where so many men met their death in the freezing Austrian winters, I was struck hard with shame. (Soon after I returned from Vienna, I wrote about this experience for an essay contest. I won $50.)

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