Taking The Next Step!

Hello friends,

So life is trudging along, as it always does for me.  I suppose I shouldn’t use the word trudge. It actually moves along swiftly, and somewhat erratically at times as well.  I take it all in stride, and enjoy the fact that I live a life that isn’t “common”…that I can’t say with any certainty what my life will look like in 12 months…either good or bad.  I like that.  It can cause some stress and trepidation, but it’s the life that I’ve lived for so long, I really wouldn’t know how to do anything differently.

And with that in mind, I must announce that I am taking the next step in my blogging journey.  I am beginning a new blog. The title of this new blog is “Reflections of a Chicago Life” and it will be a part of the ChicagoNow blogging community.  ChicagoNow is the subsidiary, if you will, of a major newspaper here in Chicago.  Furthermore, it is the next natural step in my quest to eventually be a “professional blogger.” I don’t mean professional as making a living off of blogging, but if anyone was willing to pay me $10 a month to blog, I would feel like John Grisham!

Have no fear my friends, if you’ve enjoyed “Off The Beaten Path”, you will enjoy Reflections of a Chicago Life.  I can assure you you’ll find all the same things, and wide range of topics, that you found here.  I encourage you all to hop on over there, and subscribe immediately.

In addition, my Instagram and Twitter accounts will not change, and will be the same that are accessible from this site here.  I also have a Reflections of a Chicago Life Facebook Page.

I hope you all will embark on this new leg of my journey with me.  I promise you that you won’t regret it.  I may update here from time to time, if a topic goes far outside the scope of what I feel comfortable posting at ChicagoNow, but 99% of my blogging for the foreseeable future will be done there.  Thank you all so much for your continued support, and friendship.  We’re making big moves friends.

For Ms. Idella

So 2 days ago, a dear friend of mine said “You know, you haven’t blogged in forever.  I checked.” It struck me as a super sweet sentiment that she cares.  I promised her I would blog last night.

Promise broken.

I’m blogging now, before I head to bed.

So, I started this blog 2 months ago.  It originally was titled “Heartbreak and Lullabies”.   Continue reading

Expanding Oneself…One Experience At A Time

I love new experiences.

They nourish my soul…like they make me feel alive in a way that simple day to day motion does not.

My desire for new experiences has taken me all over the world, and served me well.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a multitude of experiences that many even older than me haven’t.

And when you had a desire for new experiences with a little dose of courage, there’s not much you can’t do.   Continue reading

Strange Moments: The Kid With the Dum Dums

:So I went to this really cool event in Chicago called ACTIVATE: Couch Place.  It was basically an outdoor dance party/art exhibition…staged in a pseudo alley in the downtown area.

I rarely drink, but I had 2 glasses of wine.

In rapid succession.

Which may have left me feeling buzzed.  Which in and of itself is sad.  2 glasses of wine.  I have the alcohol tolerance of a skinny 5th grader.

But beyond that…wine makes me feel…

….weird.

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The Unforgotten

I’ve been thinking of posting about this exhibit for some time now, but following the horrific event in Charleston South Carolina, I figured this was probably an appropriate time.

The Unforgotten is an amazing piece of art, that transcends what it actually is, into something much more. As I heard the news emerging out of Charleston, I knew 2 bits of information would be inevitable to cross the television.

1) The number of victims
2) The name of the murderer

And that is all people will really remember.  That is the train of thought behind the exhibit The Unforgotten.  In these events, we always remember the name(s) of the killer(s), and yet we reduce the victims to numbers, perhaps ages…but ultimately statistics.

So a group of people decided that they would attempt to change that.  They would make sure that the victims of gun violence would remain “Unforgotten,” by celebrating them as people.  The best way to make that impact…is to have them there, at least in spirit, and more poignantly, in a physical form.  It is that point that makes the Unforgotten so genius.

Now, I’ve had the occasion to see this exhibit twice.  It’s amazing striking…powerful.  I hate using that word “powerful”….it feels so cliche…but in this case it is so appropriate.  The first time I saw them, I immediately teared up.

The statues are, in most cases, wearing the actual clothes of the victims.  The statues were also built to scale, in terms of height and size of the victims.  I also had the occasion to be present when the families of the victims saw the statues for the first time.  Overwhelmingly, you heard the repeated refrain “That’s him.  That’s her”. The creators spent time to try and get the feel of the people, down to the way they stood, the character they would present if they were standing or sitting out in public.

Which is what makes this particular exhibit so very sad, because they aren’t sitting or standing out…and they never will again.  Most of the victims in this exhibit were teenagers, teens being the group most disproportionately affected by gun violence, although the oldest victim was one month away from retirement, and a police officer no less.

This exhibit will be on display yet again at the Annual Saint Sabina End of School Peace Rally and March tomorrow, June 19th.  If anyone has the opportunity to go see it,

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I also encourage you to go the Unforgotten website and read the stories of the victims represented in the exhibit.  Spread the video, the site and information to others.  Then, sign the accompanying petition on the site.  It will help to combat illegal gun use and gun violence.

Finally…in the upcoming days, you’re going to hear a lot of news coming out of Charleston, concerning the shooting.  And you will hear the name of the shooter…over and over.  Make sure that you take some time to see and/or hear the names of the victims.  In this situation, they are the ones who are truly important.  They lost their lives to a senseless act of violence, and we owe it to them to remember them, and to make their deaths stand for something more than just a senseless, horrible act.  We need to make sure that they too, remain #Unforgotten.

So Here’s The Problem

So on my way to work today, I decided to check out the new Kanye West track “All Day”.

Now, I would never label myself a Kanye West fan per se, but he is from Chicago, and I do have a special place in my heart for Chicago area artists (Kanye West, Common, Rhymefest, etc).  Also, I’d read a few music news outlets who had heralded this track as Kanye West busting out as a real lyricist with great musicality, blah, blah, blah…

So I listened to the track, which will be in rotation 24/7 on Urban Radio stations from here till May.

The only problem?

The track ain’t s**t.

Continue reading

Trapped in the Wake of History

***This is a post I started over a year ago, at the beginning of the summer 2013. I never finished it, nor posted it. I shall post it now in it’s unfinished form. *****

The title of this blog, and the sentiments that come from thoughts I had today.

Fact: I live in Chicago

Fact: The Chicago Blackhawks recently won the 2013 Stanley Cup.

Fact: I am not a hockey a fan.

However, when it was announced the city was having a parade/rally to celebrate, I knew I would be there.

“Why?” You may ask.

Because that is history in the making. The last time the Hawks won the Stanley Cup (2010), there were approximately 2 million people at that celebration…which I missed.

Current estimates for today are 2-3 million.

That’s amazing. Those are the stories I will tell my grand kids. Those are the moments that are etched in the psyche and fabric of people and culture. If we only let the bad moments punctuate our existence, we are a doomed people.

“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”
“Where were you on 9/11?”
“Where were you when Martin Luther King Jr. Was shot?”

In addition, a phrase that is dear to my heart is “Brotherhood in exulted experience.”

Today was brotherhood…across race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, geography….today was just people being people.

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Riding Off The Beaten Path

I am a budding bicyclist. As I read somewhere recently, “I feel that it is the most civilized mode of transportation.” A few years back, I met a gentleman named Chris Figureida. We met through Couchsurfing.com. At the time, Chris was biking from Death Valley to Mt. Denali in Alaska. Then he climbed Denali. Climbed back down, and biked back to Death Valley. Chris bikes for Cycling for Heart, which he also heads, as an advocacy organization for bicycling and healthy lving Amazing right?

But I was most fascinated by Chris’ ability to bike such long distances. My goal is to one day spend a summer biking across the United States. That would be so awesome.

But for now, I bike around Chicago. Chicago was recently named the 2nd best bike city in America.

So, lucile de godoy recently inspired me with her post Bike Ride from Amsterdam to Broek in Waterline, and I assured her I would also shred some pictures of what it’s like to bike in Chicago. Well, Lucile, here you are. Also, a huge shout out to Let’s Go Ride A Bike and Freddie Photography for posting breathtaking and inspiring photos.

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Chicago: My Favorite Town

Chicago is by far my favorite town. One of the things I love about it most is its beauty.

Now, I’ve been lucky enough to see some beautiful places and things thus far in my life. The sun rising over the Mississippi River, the sun setting against the mountains of Afghanistan.

But, the beauty of Chicago is different. It’s not natural. It’s man-made, and constantly manipulated…but so very beautiful nonetheless.