I'm not sure why, but for the first time in awhile, I feel like I had a straight up weekend. The kind of weekend I will be able to look at later on down the road and shake my head at, laughing at the things I was doing when I was in my twenties, living in the man-made mountain range of the Midwest- otherwise known as Chicago. Photo Below by Pop at Thanksgiving last year.
If you've ever been atop the Hancock Building or the Sears Tower, you know what I mean. There's nothing but neighborhoods and then farms and then plains beyond that. If you've ever driven up 55 or 57, your first glimpse of the skyline after what feels like years in a two lane void is reminiscent of catching a lone mountain peak in the distance. The only rock here is the granite in posh Deco lobbies. Stone pillars of people and lights and metal. It's beautiful.
Onward to the weekend. Marianne emailed me last week to say a colleague had extra tickets to the opera playing at the Lyric and would I like to jump into her good fortune. I'd never been to the Opera, so, Yes. They were performing Die Frau Ohne Schatten- 4 hours, 3 acts, 2 intermissions and one girl coming straight from a Christmas Cookie party with a serious Cranberry Bellini buzz.I will admit to doing the nods once or twice in the first act. Not because it wasn't beautiful music. On the contrary, it's eerie to think that some people's bodies are actually capable of making sounds of that magnitude come out. Only I had made some interesting choices in terms of having nothing but Christmas cookies and champagne in my system that day. First intermission: Coffee. Second act: MUCH better!
Second Intermission: Marianne ran out to make a call so I did what I usually do in new places when left to my own devices. Start talking to whoever is sitting next to me. In this case, it was Dr. Helene Quirmbach, formerly of Ukraine, Austria, Brazil and now Chicago. Helene was forced out of Ukraine by the German occupation and then reassigned as a refugee from Austria to Brazil where she and her husband lived through the seventies and early eighties. She's a pianist.
My favorite part: She was working for the US State Dept in Brazil during the US Bicentennial and was given a grant to hire a young, native musician to play at the Becentennial celebration in Rio. So she looked and she came across a pair of brothers who were making a name for themselves- Odair and Sergio Assad. She saw "potential" and liked their parents. Now I had never heard of the Assad brothers until about a year ago when my Greek friend listed them among his influences and had me download it one night. They are now a staple on my "writing" playlist and have also become some of the most internationally successful musicians of all time. With Yo Yo Ma above. Helene lives in Ukranian Village now, we exchanged cards and I think we're gonna grab coffee. Can never know too many interesting people.
By the third act, certain aspects of the performance were really maturing while others left me muttering quietly in my seat, "Get. There. Faster." I was also starting to feel the flats now that the champagne bubbles had been excised. Time for dinner. It was about 10 and sleeting outside with a line 15 deep for cabs outside the Lyric- which is stunning, by the by. Mar and I decide we'll walk to the West Loop and grab a late bite at De Cero. We get to Halstead, having almost face planted around 11 times between us, and decide that we will go to Avec instead. All the better. Avec reminded me of Europe. Particularly of a place KMo and I had dinner at our last night in Barcelona. French/Spanish/ Mediterranean food served in tapas-style portions and I was immediately wondering "How have I not been here before?" Meri, should you ever get here from Londontown, we're going here.
Great crowd, even late, but even better food. We started with the house-marinated olives which came served on a wood board with fresh bread. Moved on to bacon wrapped dates that had been stuffed with chorizo and put in a tangy tomato sauce and then a pizza which neither of us could even look at because we were so stuffed with Mejool dates by then. I had a slice- actually, the description speaks for itself:wood-fired pizza with grapeleaf-zahatar pesto, white anchovies, arugula, red onion and organic honey. Marianne took back the rest (so good but I was too full to think) and I headed home to my jams. That should cover it, No?
Had a few calls come in once I got home, now sober and with a waning headache. Caller accent? Spanish with a Scottish brogue. Mischief abounds on a icy night downtown...
The next morning I was up relatively early and ready to download and brunch. Start calling the usual suspects-lo and behold, people are up. Caro, Abby and I discover that *SHOCK* none of us have any big plans for the day. At the very least this meant brunch cocktails. We headed to Feast and each had a rendition of Eggs Benedict- Abs went classic, I had Eggs Portobello, and Caro had Eggs Royale. Berry Berry Champagne Cocktail, Bloody Mary and Mimosa were also had respectively. This is what Sundays are made for.Next we went shopping...in my basement. My landlord, Ala, is also a jewelry designer who has set up a boutique in my building for the weekend. Not joking- I finished off my Christmas shopping and changed remaining laundry over without so much as climbing a set of stairs. The ring above is hers- she's quite talented!Last but not least, I saw The Golden Compass with Caro. I've read the book and really enjoyed it- given the the premise and my other tastes for books (Rowling, Tolkien, Niffeneggar, Lewis) this really shouldn't come as much of a surprise. What might is that I was really impressed with the way it was adapted. I almost never walk away thinking that about a movie that was originally a book I liked but I was content with how they folded it together.
There some pretty chilling themes for kids but because the main character is a child, it seems to work. Nicole Kidman was subtle, deadly and flawless. All in all, two thumbs up if you're "into that kind of thing." Truthfully, I would not say that atheism is the key item I walked away with. It's about the right and the will to ask questions and find answers. It's just as easy to see reigning group as an overzealous political party as it is the Church and those looking to construe it in one way or the other will find ways to do it. I'm in favor of anything creative that teaches kids to think for themselves. My fingers are on fire, it must be time for bed.