Thursday, October 23, 2008

Back from Houston

My excuse for not writing is that I was away visiting Andrew. Now I am back in Chicago, and finding it harder than ever to get down to business, so now seemed like a perfect time to do some blogging.

Some pictures below, but first, something that has been on my mind a lot, especially when I make these trips back and forth.

I don't tend to think of my relationship as a "long-distance relationship," even though I guess that's technically what it is; I usually just think of as a relationship, where temporarily we only get to see each other about once a month. But whatever you call it, by virtue of this fact I often feel like I lead a double-life.

On the one hand there is my life in Chicago. I have lived here for three years. My friends are here. I feel at home in this city. I go to school here, I work here, I play here.

On the other hand, there is Andrew. I am very attached to Andrew. I'm not attached to Houston at all, I don't really have friends there (except for Andrew). But Andrew is there, I have an apartment there that is more mine than where I live now, I'm looking for work there.

Sometimes, I feel like I get the best of both worlds and I'm living two rich lives.

Other times, I feel like I am only living a half-life, and that because I am living in two places at once I am missing out on important parts of both experiences.

And now, pictures:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It was a full day of eating for both

Bonus points to you if you identify the quote in the post title, which describes my Monday.

I've been using (this week and last week, anyway) my Mondays to travel up to the Northside to do some coffee shop reading and cook dinner with Alex. Yesterday, we met at Uncommon Ground (a cozy place that focuses on local produce) where we had an all right pizza and this "korean chilli-spiced fried calamari" that wasn't as spicy as the name implies but was delicious and tasty. We also learned that all beers are $4 on Mondays, and I tried a Unibroue Apple Ephemere, which is nothing like hard cider and was refreshing except for the acidic aftertaste. I'll definitely go back; they had lots of tasty-sounding things on their menu, especially some of the mixed drinks.

calamari, close-up

I forgot to mention--on my way up there I stopped on Chinatown where I bought BBQ pork bun and a sesame roll, with the real purpose of my stop being to buy dumpling wrappers for the making of potstickers. At other end of the freezer from the dumpling skins I found--mangosteens! I'll have to crack another one open today, as the ones we tried last night were not quite thawed and one seemed partially rotted...frozen may not actually be a great alternative to canned, which is the only other way you can find mangosteens in the US (to my knowledge).

Anyway, post Uncommon Ground, we went to Whole Foods and then Alex's apartment to make potstickers, from the recipe I previous mentioned on this blog. Except for the first batch--where I forgot the essential step that actually make the pot stickers
stick, they turned out beautifully. We used chard instead of cabbage, and it was a nice substitution.

After potstickers, I hankered for some bubble tea, and we managed to find a place, delightfully named Yummy Yummy, that sells real fruit bubble tea after 9pm. The store was right across from a bus stop, and after some brief farewells, I headed back home. It ws a good and scrumptious day.

Unfortunately (and unreleatedly), this morning I found myself forced to deal with the fact that I have misplaced my apartment keys, which is really bad news. It happened after I returned upstairs with my laundry last night, meaning they are either in the apartment somewhere that I failed to look this morning, or they have vanished into the aether that is our sketchy-ass, barely-lit back stairwell. The hunt will resume this evening. Earier today, in one of the bathroom on campus, I noticed a flyer posted saying, "If you have lost your keys, come to room [some number] to pick them up." I considered going, even though there is no chance they are mine.

I'm currently sitting outside on the main quads, using my laptop which is acting like a real laptop (battery life, wireless internet, portability...). It's gorgeous out, though the temperature is dropping rapidly. Yesterday was actually quite a bit warmer than I expected, and consequently I was stuck carrying around my coat and sweating in a long-sleeved shirt all day. I think it's actually too chilly now to be sitting outside, typing.

Edit: I found my keys (yay!). I had to throw out all the mangosteens (boo). I think the good news outweighs the bad here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Recent happenings

The weather was beautiful this weekend. I enjoyed it first by riding my bike along Lake Michigan and spending some time at The Point on Friday.

Saturday there was a BBQ, and this afternoon, I attended the Andersonville 2nd Annual Dessert crawl. Three hours, 12 bite-sized desserts. There were two routes to pick from, one from 1-4pm and another from 3-6pm, with largely different selections of restaurant. Two of the locations were actually stores selling treats from restaurants not directly located on the route, and one shop was just giving away coupons (15% off a full-sized cake, thanks a lot) instead of actual edibles. Otherwise, the desserts were mostly good, if a little standard. Below are some of the more interesting selections:

For descriptions and more photos, visit my Flickr set. In the end, I felt it was a little expensive ($25) for what we got, and I expected something more stand-out from a lot of places (Ann Sather had brownies, for example, when they're known for being a Swedish restaurant).

Still, we finished off the afternoon with some beers at Hopleaf; I tried the Flemish Sour Red Ale, by Monk's Cafe, which lived up to its name (I would get it again; I found the tartness refreshing, especially after an afternoon of sweets).

Made pizza for dinner just now, with ingredients leftover from massive pizza-making efforts on Thursday: homemade crust and sauce, with mushrooms, mozzarella, and ricotta. Mmm.
The weather is supposed to be nice again tomorrow, but it turns sour Tuesday. No big deal; I leave for Houston Thursday afternoon!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Post 300!

And to celebrate, I am voting in my first presidential election!

That's right, Missouri and the Illinois mail system decide NOT to screw me over this year when it comes to voting, and my absentee ballot arrived yesterday. I've got to finish filling that sucker out, mail it in, find a friggin' notary, and my vote is cast.

Speaking of reaching goals, I had a thought yesterday as my bus to work drove past a campus sidewalk closed due to construction. See, there is never not some kind of construction work going on on my campus. Right now a new dorm is being built, as well as an addition to the main library, they're cleaning or reinforcing the outside of Rockefeller Chapel and Stuart Hall...and when those are finished, they'll move on to other ones. We have a gorgeous campus at the University of Chicago, but the view is always partly blighter by scaffolding. Which prompts me to wonder:

Is the construction construction taking place on my campus a metaphor for the fact that our education is never complete? (And that we must keep pouring money into it?)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

An ethical quandary, and an indulgent day of cooking

The ethical quandary has to do yesterday's conviction of O.J. Simpson for armed robbery and kidnapping. Yes, I do mean the same O.J. Simpson who was exonerated 13 years ago for murder.

Now, I only know the vague details of this current case (the article is not especially well-written), and I'm also only vaguely familiar with the details of the 1995 case, as I was all of eight-years-old at the time. I do not have an opinion on whether or not Simpson was guilty in either case. Disregarding the facts (which may seem like a dangerous thing to do) in either case, however, I was stunned to read this:

...prosecutors told jurors during opening statements that the armed confrontation at the Palace Station hotel and casino grew out of grudges Simpson had nursed since his murder trial and civil case, and suggested that they could right a wrong by convicting him.

"You will be able to write that final chapter, the chapter of arrogance and hypocrisy and that will be the true verdict. The verdict you can feel good about," prosecutor Christopher Owens said at the time.

First assuming the prosecutor actually meant to say, "write the final chapter on this story of arrogance and hypocrisy" rather than what he literally said, what is said here strikes me as incredibly unethical. The prosecutor is asking the jury to convict Simpson for crimes he was aquitted of over a decade ago, because in the prosecutor's belief Simpson should not have been aquitted of those crimes. To me, this seems to undermine the point of our legal system. Even if Simpson is guilty of those murders, in which case a guilty verdict could in fact be seen as righting a wrong, it would not be a "true verdict" in the matter of the case at hand. It is distinctly NOT the role of this jury to determine Simpson's innocence or guilt in matters the court has already dealt with, and I think the prosecutor is crossing an ethical boundary by giving them that responsibility.

As I said, I don't have an opinion about Simpson's guilt. I think it's likely that he is in fact guilty of the crimes he was convicted of yesterday, and there may be character evidence, related to the murders/murder trial, that came into play in the robbery incident, but the result of his previous trial is neither here nor there.

Anyway, I don't have anything else to add on this matter. But I was really bothered by the prosecutor's plea to the jury to right a wrong of the past--because it goes against my understanding of the law.

On a less serious note, today was a day for indulgent food. First, I made chocolate cake--in a mug, in the microwave.

The main downside to this cake--because what could be wrong with a cake that takes five minutes to make?--is that it is very dense, without having enough flavor to make that density appreciable. I'd like to find a way to either have the cake turn out fluffier, or have a stronger flavor. But you should definitely try it if you're craving cake.

Second, while I was at the grocery store buying cocoa for the mug-cake experiment, I noticed that avocados were only $1 and purchased three which ended going into what is possibly the most delicious guacamole I have ever made.

It's all gone now, but it was excellent while it lasted. Three avocados, 1 large clove of garlic (probably equivalent to two regular cloves), a handful of chopped fresh cilantro, the juice of half a lime, dash of salt and pepper, and a small amount of dried chile de arbol. Mmm.

Otherwise, not much going on today. Thanks to a couple of late nights, I ended up sleeping until almost 1pm. I've done a bit of reading, picked up stuff around my room, and purched food for a couple other meals.