Sunday, September 30, 2007

Autumn in Chicago

When I first moved to Chicago I always heard Midwesterners raving about how they loved seeing all four seasons. Being a Louisianian at heart, of course I thought they were (a) lying, (b) rationalizing or (c) crazy. Now that I’ve lived in Chicago a while, I kind of see their point and am rather hoping there’s a (d) category. I got to pondering the seasons this weekend, because (1) I have no life and (2) I took my Fall clothes out of storage. I'm looking forward to wearing scarves, jackets... and sleeves. I'm also getting excited about Fall colors (I love Fall drives and taking pictures of trees with their leaves changing color); I even chatted with my friend Suj about going snowboarding in a few months. Still while I’m looking forward to Fall, I could do without Winter. I’m a three-season girl that way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sania poses & Tony shoots

My friend Tony took some great pix at the US Open, and of course I couldn't resist posting a few. You should have seen his camera -- it's bigger than some lugged around by press photographers! These are of Sania Mirza, who as I mentioned in an earlier post is quite an Indian sensation. And what do you think of that cheetah pose at left? A few of the women seemed to employ this 'formation' (i.e., strike this pose) in doubles matches.

Monday, September 24, 2007

'Tree woman' comes to Chicago

If you hear me blabbing excitedly about seeing a famous woman in Chicago, you might guess she's an anorexic twentysomething toting a Prada handbag bigger than her head. But you'd be wrong. (This time anyway.) The famous woman I'm talking about today is Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. The 64-year-old Kenyan environmentalist and human rights activist is the first African woman to win the prize; she won it in 2004 for "contribution to sustainable development, human rights and peace." She spoke at the University of Chicago as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, one of my favorite city events. Here's more about her: "In the late 1970s Mrs. Maathai led a campaign called the Green Belt Movement to plant tens of millions of trees across Africa to slow deforestation. The movement grew to include projects to preserve biodiversity, educate people about their environment and promote the rights of women and girls." She's affectionately called 'Tree Woman'. I loved hearing her speak. Partly because it's inspiring to hear people talk about things they're passionate about. (Even if it's artichoke hearts.) And partly because it's another reminder that the world is such a big place but that one person can do so much. (As an aside she was married to a Kenyan politician who divorced her, because she was "too strong-minded for a woman". Sometimes there are no words.) So how did she celebrate her big win? She didn't dine out at Blue Agave, as I plan to when I win my Nobel. She planted a tree.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The coolest bus in town

I felt pretty useful on the 134 bus the other day. I was on my way home, standing because I couldn't get a seat (yet again), when the bus driver stops the bus in the middle of the road. People look up from their iPods/cell phones/day dreams. The driver says to me, “Am I doin this right?" I let her know she should keep going in the right lane but that some drivers opt for the left lane and that's fine too. Satisfied, she drives on. And me? Well obviously I feel like the hero that I am. (Not quite Keanu, but you get the point.) Incidentally anyone who's never been on the 134 is really missing out on life. It's a gorgeous ride from downtown to Lincoln Park… with the green of the park on one side and the blue of the lake on the other.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

How to get free tennis lessons

So my tennis teacher asked me out. He's an interesting character with a Jamaican accent and an aversion to punctuality. The week's been a bit busy for me, so he said to give him a call… "the ball's in your court". I'm not sure if the pun was intended, but I am pretty sure this means free private lessons. And really, what tennis lover could refuse that?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What do you remember about 9/11?

When big things happen, sometimes it’s the little things I remember. Today, exactly six years after the 9/11 attacks, I remember what I thought as I drove to work an hour before 19 fanatical murderers killed 3,000 innocent people. I thought what a nice, sunny day it was. I rolled my eyes as I heard that Michael Jordan was contemplating coming out of retirement again. I was really annoyed that I forgot about my new IPass transponder and paid 40 cents extra at the tollbooth. Of course when I force myself to stop and think of the real events of that day, I can. I can think of people in buildings jumping knowingly to their deaths, passengers on planes making frantic phone calls to say goodbye forever, the immense hatred in the "hearts" of 19 psychopaths and the immense emptiness that 3,000 families must have felt at the loss of a loved one. I know these are the things I should remember. But if I thought of these things only -- and often -- how would I get out of bed in the morning? I suspect my mind is "protecting" me, and I wonder if it’s this type of "protecting" that allows me to have drinks and do brunch while millions are starved and raped in Darfur.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

No shirt, no problem… at the US Open

I had a blast at the US Open over Labor Day weekend. Using the official Tennis Fun Scale – on which having a torrid Wimbledon-weekend fling with handsome James Blake is a 10 and watching Mynameis Somethingkova play in 110-degree weather without sunblock is a 1 – I give my trip a 9. For those not familiar with my scientific scale, that’s the score for watching a shirtless Andy Roddick show up out of nowhere to practice wiith coach Jimmy Connors a few feet in front of you. And before you ask, yes, he’s a hottie. I also saw Sania Mirza, the highest-ranked female Indian player ever, play doubles with a partner who was decked up in dazzling gold. I’d think she was going clubbing right after the match, but it was the middle of the day. Apparently in her next match she wore leopard print and shorts so short the umpire had to check whether they were legal. As for Sania, I heard she was an Aishwarya Rai-size superstar in India, but I can believe it now considering how popular she was in New York; she got more cheers than anyone I saw play. Enough about the players (shirtless or not)... let's talk about the fans. Some people really love their tennis. I met a fellow Chicagoan who was at her 28th straight US Open. Impressive? Sure, but not compared to one man in her group. He’s a cancer patient who stopped his chemotherapy for a week to be at the US Open. And not against doctors’ orders – his doctor was fine with it, saying mental health is as important as physical health.