Monthly Archives: May 2011

Belleza Interior

Solo para Siempre 3rdarm

The Mission Statement: Our goal is to offer our guests a memorable experience with Mexican cuisine, by sharing with them the rich complexity of Mexican cooking, the vitality of Mexican culture and the generous hospitality of the Mexican spirit. We work together to achieve these goals by:

(1) Working with pride, knowledge and enthusiasm. We want all our co-workers to share our pride in the rich traditions of Mexico, the success of the restaurant and the knowledge we possess. Enthusiasm is contagious.
(2) Treating our guests and co-workers with respect and warmth. A restaurant in which all staff members are respected is a restaurant that can offer its guests genuine hospitality.
(3) Maintaining the restaurant clean, organized and in good working order. A dirty, disorganized or rundown restaurant does not reflect the beauty of Mexican culture.
(4) Working efficiently and treating food and equipment carefully. Working inefficiently, wasting food or mistreating equipment poorly presents Mexican cooking and makes the restaurant less profitable — all of which effects our salaries.

From my new employee handbook.

Roly Poly Snoring

Chicago river 3rdarm

I was in Ronan Park today. There is a small trail that goes down to the banks of the Chicago River. It’s a butterfly and bird sanctuary. There were canoers. I thought it was good. On my way back into my apartment later, I noticed the downstairs neighbor’s blinds were open. I looked into the window and saw their apartment for the first time. On the wall hung a four by six foot painting of a white kitten. By chance, the NYT had a story up about the quality of the water in the Chicago River. In language that included the words “poop” and “hippies” I learned that more than a hundred years ago engineers reversed the flow of the river, and have now been laboring for decades to construct many underground reservoirs to capture the overflow of waste in a project called Deep Tunnel.

My neighbor 3rdarm

I think a man is living in a white van across the street from me, next to the park. Maybe his wife kicked him out. Last night he was listening to the Bulls game on the radio. I walked by and it was loud enough that the whole neighborhood could have listened to the play by play. Today he was out grilling chicken. Unfortunately, photography may have threatened him. He grabbed his skewers off the grill and in haste, dropped all the chicken on the ground. The man stooped down, gathered up the bits of meat and dragged them into his white van like a cave bear.

Tears of a Ghetto Klown

As a child

Maria Hinojosa: You really also talk about something that we don’t often talk about, certainly not in the Latino community, which is depression. Depression in general, depression in Latinos, depression in immigrants, depression in men. You put that out there, too.

John Leguizamo: I thought it was important to be as vulnerable about that, especially because we Latin dudes, we got the macho thing going on, but we’re a lot more involved than we get credit for, also. Especially modern Latin men, we’re much more vocal. When I hang out with my friends, my friends are all about my age, most of them are from my high school, and so we talk about a lot of stuff, man. We get really deep, and we talk about stuff that, I don’t know if our dads had that ability, or that language, or that permission. But definitely it’s better to know that Latin men, we get depressed. We cry like everybody else. And it’s okay. And it’s better than okay. The only way to survive life is to be as vulnerable as possible.

-conversation from NPR’s Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa, May 13, 2011

Hur Man Gör Barn

Fredrik and Eva 3rdarm

I just thought I’d say… hello because I live here. Neighbours… -Really? -I’m Fredrik. -I’m Eva. -What? -I’m Fredrik. I have 4.5. -What? -My glasses. -Have you? -Visual defect, that is. Plus 4.5. -I’ve got that, too. -Have you! In both eyes? -Yes. -I never met anyone with exactly the same. -No, me neither. [They switch glasses.] -It’s… it’s exactly the same! -Yes… there’s no difference. Imagine if we really changed and went around like this. How ugly…

Min pappa slog mig 3rdarm

Can I sleep here? My dad hit me. Now we have the same tape on our glasses as well. -I have to confess something. I made that up about my glasses breaking when I was dancing. -I know. I understood that. But it doesn’t matter, because I have no friends either. Apart from you, that is… -We’re just going to sleep next to each other, aren’t we? Nothing else? -No. -Good. Good night. -Good night.

-from the year 2000 Swedish film, Together, written and directed by Lukas Moodysson

Don’t Force Your Stride

Jenns chickens 3rdarm

Walking, which is something most people can do, is one of the finest exercises for relaxation and health.

I highly recommend it as a means of attaining physical fitness. While jogging and running are good forms of exercise for persons in excellent physical condition, it cannot be done by the many millions of people who suffer from arthritic problems, those with back injuries, foot or leg impairments or heart disease. However, most of these people can walk and I, in my medical practice, urge many such patients to do so, including those with coronary heart disease. Walking can actually help arthritic people (that is, if they’re not crippled) because it exercises the joints and improves circulation.

Individuals in good physical condition can walk at a brisk pace. It is not only good for exercising and toning muscles but is a valuable aid to cardiovascular fitness. It strengthens the heart and lungs, helps to lower blood pressure, and decreases cholesterol and triglycerides associated with coronary disease. When walking is done properly and is associated with proper diet, it can help reduce weight, enabling one to make the best use of fats and sugars (carbohydrates).

I would not advice people to walk in Olympic style as not many are capable of doing it. In Olympic walking, you are extending yourself with an extra stride of 10 to 16 inches which enables you to walk a mile only about three minutes slower than running it. An ordinary walker covers a mile in 12 to 15 minutes. A brisk pace is considered one mile in about 11 minutes and that’s a stride that can do you much good if you walk long enough and do it on a regular basis. I advise people to walk twice a day — in the morning before going to work and in the evening before bedtime. You can supplement that by walking on your lunch hour or to various errands. I quite often walk to the grocery store. Too many people have sedentary jobs that provide them with very little exercise, and so they should walk every chance they get.

People not in good physical condition can nevertheless walk. They should stop their walk when they get tired and rest awhile. Each individual has to gauge one’s own limitations on distance and pace. If you find that you can only stroll, that’s fine, too, as it can be a very relaxing exercise. Relaxation is always beneficial to health.

While walking is admittedly less effective on a time basis than jogging or running, you are exercising the same muscles when you walk, especially if you swing your arms (which I recommend for the most benefit). All you have to do is walk perhaps three times as long as you would jog to gain mutual fitness benefits. Walking sticks and canes are highly recommended because they help you to exercise your arms and shoulders. I advise switching from one arm to the other during various intervals in your walk. Actually, two walking sticks or canes are ideal for walking for exercise that will do you the most good. It may look ridiculous, but as you propel yourself forward, you’re exercising not only your arms and shoulders but virtually every muscle in your body. It’s like walking on all fours and it’s better than bicycling.

One final tip: when you walk, always try to do it as much as possible while away from vehicle exhaust fumes. The walk will be healthier. — Keith E. Kenyon, Jr., M.D.


Think of the pure pleasure that can come from putting one foot before the other in effortless rhythmic walking!

Walking is such great fun. For no walk is ever ordinary — no neighborhood or lane is ever the same. Every city pavement, every country path, has vistas to offer the walker. From moment to moment, as the sun rises or sets, the light for seeing is different. Shadows change. Forms and buildings change. The weather changes. Step out in a brisk walk and the mind clears. Your worries are left behind. Anxieties disperse. Energy is renewed.

For to walk is to escape. There are no telephones to jangle your nerves. Conversation can’t distract you. Bad news can’t reach you — and you can’t reach anyone. Not children, nor parents, nor spouse. You can go where you wish, stop, or change direction at will.

You can walk to think or (better still) walk not to think. And when you walk, you can gawk. It is you that is moving (not your car with its fixed environment). You feel the invigorating motion of air on your face. You see. You hear. You scent. You explore. You discover. You enrich your mind. You uplift your soul — with the changing shifting details of life. There the trees and building tops! There the pattern of narrow streets. There a cloud moving! There a blue jay! There a bird swimming in harbor water! — The Footwear Council

-from The Joy of Walking, by Jack Scagnetti, 1979 (the height of the 70s gasoline crisis)

Cave of Remembered Dreams

Front door 3rdarm

I had a deep complicated dream about my family and my past. I went to live in my grandmother Happy’s house. I brought in all my stuff and decorations, and set everything up, room by room. I saw the bedroom I would sleep in, where my grandfather died. I saw the living room where my mother died. I was in the bathroom and saw my reflection in the mirror for a split second before I looked away. I thought about getting a job in a restaurant, the commute to work I’d have. I considered inviting Eliot or my aunt to come hang out. Some features of the house were different and it was less creepy than it sounds. The seated swing my grandparents got for one of their last anniversaries was still in the backyard. An old man walked beside the house, with a cut on his face. He looked like a vagrant. I saw him from the kitchen / breezeway. I stepped outside and told him to get lost. He said he knew me, mentioned maybe buying a terrarium, as in he read my blog. He sprinted to the front door. I chased him telling him he wasn’t welcome and he turned and attacked me. As he ran at me I threatened that I would put him on my blog, took out my iPhone and took his photo with the phone’s camera. He charged me again and I took his photo again. When I looked down at the photo I’d taken, I saw that his face was actually composed of the tiny image of a young, happy family…

Bathroom window 3rdarm

I woke up in my new bedroom in Chicago, my brain now as tired from overwork as my body had been when I’d lay down for the afternoon nap. I thought about my aunt, and her house by the seashore. I thought back to when my sister and I had to gather up any last belongings from our childhood home. Was there anything I missed that I wished I had now? The answer was no. Not even the handmade wooden crib made for my aunt and brought home from Europe after World War II. Although that item gave me pause. It had been in the attic. I went up alone for it but froze at the top of the ladder. I remembered my grandmother’s house. How again my sister and I were the last two to see it before the house and everything in it were sold. Another human scale time capsule we visited. Time travelers, moving forward. Would I have wanted to keep the house and live in it? The weight of love and memories was too much. I thought of my other aunt, who left Connecticut for Florida. For the first time I think I understood why she left. It was the same reason I had to leave Boston, so close to my family in Connecticut. To leave home again and again. On a circular path leading forever forward.

He Shoots, He Scores

Tree leaf 3rdarm

My days are being informed by the two astrologists on the payroll of the Sun-Times. Georgia Nicols and Eugenia Last. Eugenia is not my favorite. She focuses on celebrities birthdays and rates each day with one to five stars. I don’t need that noise. Even if they were accurate and they are not, I don’t think a one to five star rating is a good way to live. There is too much variation in a day, like with films. Georgia on the other hand tracks the phases of the moon. Heralded as “Canada’s most popular astrologer” she is the wiser one, with snappy glasses. She says exactly when its okay to shop. The other day she cautioned me to, “Go gently.”

Canadas favorite 3rdarm

Yesterday Georgia said I could expect, “surprises in sports. (He shoots he scores!)” I had been scoreless so far in my Wednesday night basketball league. I went to my game in the evening and told my team of Georgia’s forecast. I debated whether or not to do this, because I didn’t want to jinx it. But then I reasoned the jinx was on anyway, when Georgia called me out. Our center, one of our team’s best players, didn’t make it to the game. I had to man up. Sometime in the first half, I gathered a rebound and put the ball in the hoop. The descending sun’s light zagged through the gymnasium’s tall windows. I looked down court to my teammate Tracy’s encouraging smile and the grin on my face said, “I’m an idiot.”

There’s That Cat Again

Archie and Roller Pug 3RDARM

Everybody from my unitarian universalist ex-girlfriend to aunts from both sides of my family wants to know more about Archie, my friend Meghan’s giant white pet. It was my most popular, commented-on post of the year. Well here’s another photo. The roller pug is in the picture for scale. Archie is the size of a galloping white pony. He is very friendly but he is not Roly Poly. Archie has the shaggy white fur and general heft of an arctic lynx. Roly Poly has the sharp teeth and orange tail of a smaller fox. While my cat eats exclusively dry food, Archie plays by his own rules. To address my sister’s question, the figures on the walls are antique barnstars.

The Bowl Job’s Crummy

The gateway to the universe of stars 3rdarm

There were two or three cabooses that belonged to the bowl job on a spur next to the parking lot. In the old days, each local had its own caboose, and the crew could fix it up like home. The bowl job’s caboose was a gesture left over from this tradition. It was a cupola caboose, wooden and old-style, and every square inch of its interior was papered with hard-core porn. We were talking split beaver here. Hairy-mouthed vaginas lined the roof like spiders waiting to gulp up whatever dumb fly had abandoned all hope and entered here. Melon-sized breasts poked like torpedoes from the walls. Like a Byzantine chapel, its cruciform shape, drab and earthly on the outside, gave no hint at what would be revealed within. Passing through its portals, one understood that the interior was really the gateway to the universe of stars, following the processing of Saints and Martyrs who have gone before. The vagina, the gateway to life, certainly, and now re-enterable, following the procession of big bazooms, disclosed the jewel-like interior of the body of life itself. But to what universe were we heading here? No ethereal place or feeling, but a closing in, a breathlessness, I would have thought, an anti-erotic concentration. The pictures were too dark, too — well, hairy. Women tend to paint themselves as vulva flowers, perhaps in a desire to turn themselves inside out, to give birth to themselves. The vulva becomes flowers and swirling water; it is brought to light. The caboose regarded snatch as a dark and bushy place where the sun definitely did not shine. No wonder men had trouble with the concept of foreplay. I bet they didn’t spend much time in this caboose either.

Pistils 3rdarm

Not to say that stepping into this caboose was not a slap in the face. But its placement here, in the deadliest switching yard in the Southern Pacific system, raised it into the realm of the artistically surreal. It felt like a tall tale, like another dimension had been added or subtracted from an ordinary perception. Suddenly you are within a joke, and things have just gone a little too far our there, and the mind suspends judgment. I just thought, “OK, fine. Hairy vaginas and sulphuric acid tank cars and cowboy macho switchmen and so what next.”

-Linda Gypsy Niemann, from her memoir, On The Rails