Wednesday, October 5 2022

soap, the dinosaur mural, and walkability

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Dear Journal,

Hey everybody, good morning. It's nice to reach the middle of the week. The truth is I probably should have started writing a few minutes ago, but I got too damn comfortable lounging around with coffee in the dining room. First, Minnie fell asleep on my lap. Then Marissa and I started making plans for the weekend. All the while, we watched with amusement while a tired Rodney nodded off at the breakfast table over a bowl of dry honey comb.

"Why are you so tired today, dude?" I asked. Rodney blinked, uninterested.

"I think somebody stayed up a little too late circling things in the Christmas catalog we got in the mail," teased Marissa.

I poured Rodney another shot of apple juice, thinking the sugar would wake him up. I thought about giving him a sip of coffee. Mornings like these must be tough on a kid. Just imagine if you were tired and you didn't even get the help of freshly brewed morning stimulants.

Sip. How's the week treating you so far? I've been hacking away at a particularly thorny technical problem at work. So to break up day and give my brain some peace, I took a midday drive into the city. I love driving into the city. Barreling down the sunny highway while the glimmering Chicago skyline grows out of the horizon - the drive itself is a good enough reason. But yesterday's flimsy excuse to take a short road trip was to pick up my soap.

At Marissa's last spring show, we struck friendship with Faye, a local soap vendor. I bought one of Faye's soaps to commemorate our new friendship. But the feel, aroma, and quality of her soap was so undeniably real (especially compared to my usual cheap bottle of Old Spice body wash), I had to buy another.

Marissa and I walked after Miles, who confidently tottled through Fulton Market.


Faye pulled over at the curb, jumped out of her car, and gave us a big hug. We got to chatting about art shows. Sadly, she couldn't get off the wait list for the next show, and the whole interaction with the event organizers rubbed her the wrong way. "I'm sorry - I'll get off my soap box now," she said grinning, giving plenty of time for the soap pun to land.

How's your soap supply? Maybe you should head over to Janvier and take a look at the supply. The "Soap Queen" has something for everyone.

After picking up my soap, we took Miles to a donut shop. It took exactly 10 minutes for our son to wolf down the vanilla bean glazed ring.


Back at home, Marissa finished up Rodney's bedroom mural. I could have sworn she was already done with it, but as I've learned from watching her work, you never really finish a piece of art - you just have to sort of walk away from it.

"I think I'm secretly making my own childhood dream come true," admitted Marissa. "I mean NO, there's NOTHING psychological going on. Me and Rodney just like dinosaurs."


Marissa and I embarked on a small diet in the month of October - just to curb all the eating tourism that took place this past summer after a stressful move. I took a brisk evening walk to Jewel to pick up some light beer. I used to take brisk evening walks in Madison too, and one of the biggest differences I've noticed between Madison and Schaumburg is walkability. No, that's not just a nonsense term that realtors throw around to make an area seem charming. It's real, palpable, and the difference is felt in the details. Walking around my old neighborhood in Madison, the craggly sidewalks took me underneath trees, through brush, and along running water. It was like the natural habitat was there first and we humans had to humbly meander around it.

Here in the suburbs of Chicago, nature is sparse. If you want to walk through trees, flowers, and shrubs, you have to go drive to a nature reserve. If you try to walk there, you'll have to first brave a narrow sidewalk that flanks a busy road. No turns, twists, or change in scenery either - just a straight walk interrupted by the occasional pause waiting for a signal at a busy intersection.

But even a straight walk along a busy road can be kind of meditative. You get a nice breeze from the cars whizzing by on the road. And it's not like there are zero trees - just look at this beautiful, exuberant pine I found. Never mind that it's growing right over the sidewalk.


Once I get to Jewel, I have to cut over the hill through some grass, ducking under a few more pine trees. But beside the roped off pile of sharp metal and stack of construction barricades, there's a port-a-potty in case I ever have to relive myself - a thoughtful touch, isn't it?


Some of my Madison friends got a good laugh at the street view of Schaumburg's town square. Doesn't this look cozy? Want to go sit in the shade of our little clock tower and listen to the rumbling of cars?


Low walkability, but I love this place for other reasons. Thanks for stopping by today, and have a great Wednesday everyone.