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.

July 7, 2006

President Bush flies over my dinner table, and other updates

Last night I had dinner with my friend Mandy at Taste of Heaven, a charming little café and bakery in our neighborhood that has fresh, cheap sandwiches, leafy outdoor seating, and giant frosted cupcakes (as well as perfectly reasonable expectations for diners with children in tow that blew up all over the national news recently). We were sitting outside, enjoying our half-sandwiches and pasta salads, when our conversation was drowned out by the harsh blop-blopping of eight helicopters that appeared over the horizon and flew over us, heading west. “It’s the president!” Mandy said. “He’s here today in Chicago. I just saw it on the news.” Dubya? Here in Chicago, my beloved liberal bastion of liberalness? He doesn’t come here that often. But he graced us with his presence yesterday, buddying up with Mayor Daley and celebrating his sixtieth birthday downtown. And interrupting my dinner.


So apparently I have a master’s degree in writing. A master’s degree! I graduated in June after four long years of classes—classes that I really did enjoy (well, mostly—we won’t speak of Classical Rhetoric here), taking only one a quarter instead of two so as not to give myself a stress-induced heart attack and become estranged from my family. It seems like a long time ago that I was 26, newly arrived in this city and mulling over the possibility of grad school. I wrote a journal entry about making that decision, but it was lost when Diary-X gave up the ghost. Suffice it to say, it was a big decision and one that I doubt I’ll ever regret. Jobs aren’t plentiful in the editing/publishing field, so anything that increases my marketability is a big plus.

It’s funny—people keep asking me, “Wow, so now that you’ve graduated, what are you going to do?” I mean, co-workers have asked me this. As if I’m going to retreat to some private island in the Florida Keys and get started on my great American novel. I usually reply, “Uh… keep working here?” I like my job; I’m not looking for anything else right now. Although it’s true, there is a sense of “What next?” after finishing something so monumental. (My mother’s answer to that question, it turns out, is “procreate.”)

It turns out that the first thing I did with my degree saved us $150. After returning from a weekend in Michigan last month, John and I parked for a few minutes in our alley to unload the car (our building doesn’t have a parking lot, and there was no street parking available). After one of our arm-laden trips up to our condo, we returned to find a cop writing us a ticket for $150 for blocking the alley. No horn honking, no warning, no mercy. I immediately contested it, composing a clear, straightforward, persuasive letter—even using bullet points to enumerate all the reasons that ticket was bullshit. And what do you know, it worked! The ticket was revoked. We celebrated by taking a neighbor out for her birthday and spending $165 on dinner.


We’re heading out east for vacation soon, spending a few days in Manhattan and then a few in the Pocono Mountains. There we’ll stay with my parents, my sister, and her husband in the same cabin where my family vacationed every year until I was 18. That was the year we left Pennsylvania for Michigan, and I haven’t been back to the Poconos since.

I’m excited about this trip—the mix of city and mountains, the combination of tripping around NYC in heels and oversized sunglasses and hiking Bushkill Falls in cargo shorts and running shoes. Eating at the Shake Shack, fishing with my dad, exploring Central Park, breathing in the cool, clean mountain air… being transported back to all those late Augusts in the cabin: listening to Monkee records on my portable player and delving into a pile of Babysitter Club books; hoping, with my sister, to stumble upon a bear when we took our after-dinner walks with our parents; swimming in the cold blue lake up the road; always coming in third when the four of us played miniature golf… my heart kinda swells at the mere mention of all that. Manhattan will be fast-paced and dirty and eye-opening and glamorous; the Poconos will be a clean slice of simple pleasure with a generous side of nostalgia. I can’t wait.

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Blogger KJ's muse said...

Congrats on graduating!

p.s. you know me better from my old ClickYourHeelsTogether website

8:10 PM  

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