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is it me

I am at the train station again. The one with the Starbucks.

I come here almost every Saturday morning when the kids are in Religious Ed. Free babysitting provided by the Catholic Church. That’s the least they could do for me really.

When I was waiting for my non-fat Venti latte, I heard “Hi, Mrs. Absence!” and barely recognized A, a boy who lives in the house across the street from us. I was pleasantly surprised for surely most kids his age (13, the same as my oldest) would have preferred to slip by without having to say hello to a neighbor lady whom his family does not socialize with other than “Hello!” when we chance to see each other outside. When I walked into the train station with my coffee, my oatmeal, my laptop and my iPhod, I realized that he was with a group of a good size, comprised of fathers and children. One of the fathers whom I have never met before explained that A’s grandfather organizes such a group outing for the dads every year around Valentine’s Day so their wives could have a grand day off.

[A’s mother does not work outside of the house. Both kids are old enough to take care of themselves and are away from school between 8:30 am and 3 pm. They have house cleaners that come every other week. What will she be doing today that is going to be different from her Monday through Friday? I cannot help but be curious…]

The stranger dad asked, “So are you going downtown today?”

I wondered what he made of me: me in my Aerosmith t-shirt, jeans, black boots, thick black eyeliners, and a choker necklace at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, oh, and I just noticed now, no wedding ring. (I often leave my ring at home together with my bracelet and watch. I get allergic reactions from metal easily…)

“To the Auto Show?” He added. Perhaps that’s somewhere he would rather go instead of the show they are taking the kids to?

“No.” I had not realized yet that it might have sounded odd to people that I come and hang out at the train station. I joked, “I am not going downtown. I am trying to get away from the kids,” taking for granted that he would know what it was like, what I meant.

Of course he did not. He looked downright uncomfortable, not knowing how to respond to my impromptu confession. Laughing awkwardly, he said, making a sweeping gesture towards the kids in his group, “Getting away from the kids? Sorry about that then.”

I laughed. “No, no. I am not getting on the train. I am not going anywhere. I am just here.”

He looked puzzled. “Here? The train station?” His eyebrows arched. Was that a cloud of horror passing through his eyes?

“Yes, I am here for the Starbucks. You know.”

Judging from his quizzical eyebrows, I doubted that he did.

I was baffled. What’s wrong with being at the train station? I thought.

At this moment A’s dad made his way across the train station and spotted me. “Hey! What are you doing here?” I gave him a hug and told him in mid-hug, “Well, I am coming with you guys!” Feeling sorry for the confusion visible in his face when I released him, I quickly added, “Just kidding. I am just here at the train station.”

“The… the train station?” He looked so confounded as if I had told him that I had been there for, oh I don’t know, a rally for the democratic party. Actually, he would probably have been able to understand that. It is this “hanging out at a train station with no specific purpose by myself” that caught him off guard I suspect.

“You know. They have a Starbucks here,” I added with an emphasis, “The ONLY Starbucks in town.”

“Surely there is a Starbucks closer to our houses, no?” He insisted, unconsciously attempting to steer me away from the train station perhaps.

After I rattled off the alternative locations, he concurred that this is indeed the closest Starbucks we’ve got.

“But…” He still could not let it go, “The train station?”

“Well, you see, when the train leaves, there will be nobody here. It is quiet and very nice. The Starbucks is here. And there is free Wi-Fi.” I could tell that he was not convinced that this was the most logical choice, or a logical choice at all, so I shrugged, “Well, I am strange this way in case you haven’t figured that out after more than 10 years…”

Now it’s his turn to reassure me my normal-ness. “Nah. Nah. You are fine. You are fine.” We both chuckled.

Fortunately the bell started ringing to announce the arrival of the commuter train.

“Have a nice day downtown!”

“Enjoy the train station!” He said, and I thought I detected a tinge of the kind of tone that people use to someone who insists on, say, rummaging through a junk yard. “Have fun at the junk yard even though I cannot for the life of me understand WHY but hey this is a free country so go for it!”

I did. For another hour until I had to pick the kids up. But I could not shake my own puzzlement over how they were so befuddled and possibly, amused.

So my dear Soren Lorensens, do you know, what is so strange about hanging out at a Starbucks inside an empty train station?


What is missing here?

January 31, 2011

in random

This week according to Chicago Tribune



Oh, who cares about Chinese New Year right?



Honestly, I would not have been so indignant if they hadn’t made such a big deal out of Nathan Lane’s 55th birthday as “THE BIG THING” for February 3rd. Nothing against Nathan Lane: Love him in The Birdcage. And it is very easy to forget about Chinese New Year when you are not surrounded by other Chinese people; I myself have done so a few times and forgot to call my parents even. But come on. It is not even his 60th! I even checked to make sure that I didn’t miss the news of his untimely demise. So the Chicago Tribune folks sat around in the News Editing Writing Brainstorming Room and Nathan Lane’s 55th birthday is what they managed to come up with.




The year of the Rabbit is coming whether Chicago Tribune acknowledges it or not. Beware of Angry Bunny. Just sayin’



Thanksgiving is over. We can be snarky again.

November 26, 2010 random

F I N A L L Y! Ok. I am joking. Well, maybe 50%. I am most likely kidding on the square, as is my MO. I have been thinking about being thankful, for all the right reasons, like everybody else around Thanksgiving time. When I went to the grocery store across the street for the […]


Cold Turkey (A Pictorial)

November 22, 2010 mark my word: twitter will doom us all

I have not been motivated to write real posts for a while now because I find lately my stats dispiriting, to say the least… . . . . . Oh well. This kind of provides me with a great excuse to show you this picture I took when I all of a sudden saw something […]


We can’t be friends if your name is Doug

October 5, 2010 random

Since I have started telling you English words that I simply have a hard time pronouncing, I thought I’d mention this: What is up with the name DOUG? I tried and tried and so far I don’t think I’ve managed to pronounce this name correctly. It sounds somewhere in the spectrum between “dog” and “da-g”. […]


Pumpkins and Corn

October 3, 2010 a picture is worth a thousand words

Our annual ritual in the fall (and yes, I know some of you hate FALL like a Sunday…) is to visit the pumpkin farm. To be honest, the reason we go back every year is for the best apple cider donuts made fresh there. . . . . The above is part of the Sundays […]


This is 100% innocent. I swear.

September 14, 2010 random

Dear Soren Lorensens, I know I have not been a good blogger: for one, I haven’t managed to respond to the comments you kindly left me so I don’t go into yet another bout of depression thinking that nobody loves me. I have also not been leaving comments on your blogs. I am killing my […]


The Highlight Reel

June 22, 2010 random

Who’d have thought that a post titled “Warning: Do Not Read This If You Are My Husband” would pique my husband’s interest? The man normally does not read my blog posts. He is content to read the ones I forward to his email inbox. But I forgot that he does read my tweets, esp. when […]


Dear @Wired. Meet Georgia O’Keeffe.

June 19, 2010 a picture is worth a thousand words

In addition to Threadless Tees, I also try to seem young and hip and on top of things by subscribing to Wired Magazine. Although I have been caught in this conundrum of inadvertently outing myself as an old fart by actually subscribing to the print edition. Seriously, who subscribes to print editions of magazines any more? And since […]