Saturday, April 3, 2010

Summer! Biking! Pilsen! Rooftops! Elation!

On Thursday I biked to my internship in Pilsen. It was 80* and sunny and on the way back, incredibly windy. I went up the lakeshore path from 47th to 18th, and then got really confused trying to cross over Lakeshore Drive and the Metra tracks. Some nice runner ladies pointed me in the right direction. After you cross the Metra tracks, you're in this surreal place with castles, which turn out to be townhomes and the US Soccer Federation. Then, after some industry and a terrifying bridge made of metal grating, the river glinting below your lurching tires far below, you're in Pilsen. The tamales vendors smile and wave, mothers take their kids to school, stores are opening. By Damen, the street smells like tacos. Later in the day, I went for a walk to the park, bought some pastries at Central Bakery, developed my photos, bought ice cream, ate a salad outside in the sun. In the afternoon, I biked into a strong wind full of dust and blowing trash and "hola, guapa!" to Little Village, where I bought some incredible coconut water with pulp (from Thailand via Mexico) which was summer in a can, along with some chilis and granola, and sat on a front stoop talking and people-watching.

On the way home, I biked down Cermak to Halsted, and then took Halsted south to 31st St, where I passed what I think is the hill from photographer Paul Octavious's daily photo essay (he took a picture of some hill in Chicago every day for a year, photo above, found via Cup of Jo). Then through more blowing grit and a strange conversation at stoplights from a guy on a motorbike (my word for "not as loud as a motorcycle should be but didn't look like a moped") who just seemed to want to share his general elation. I went through Bridgeport and across the Drive onto a grueling ride into the wind down the path, where I got smoked by some guys in matching spandex uniforms and even, hilariously, by the pudgy one who brought up the rear. I blame this on having small tires. Even 53rd street was hopping; what used to be a generic movie rental place and was closed for a long time is now open as a garden shop with a hand-drawn sign. Adorable!

My roommates and I spent the night drinking on the roof, where we stayed for varying portions of the wee am hours. Yesterday afternoon I spent on the roof in the sun with more drinks (gin & tonics, strawberry daiquiris made with fresh strawberries!) and a rotating cast of passer-by friends. The buds on our front yard tree that had been closed shut the night before had little lime green filaments escaping out. We stayed up until sunset, watching the birds reeling out of the west and the streetlights turning everywhere below us a cozy summer orange, the sky turning purple, the clouds dividing the sky. Today it's raining, so it's back to the glowing rectangles and reams of papers for me.

I was reading blogs, specifically Bliss, and came across this cute skirt, which is part of Frei designs, sold super-sustainably in Chicago by designer Annie Novotny at her storefront Workshop, which is on 18th Street and I must have biked right past. This is from the Frei website, can you believe it?:

"Supporting healthy labor practices and environmental sustainability.

Made with carefully-chosen materials:
• 80% organic
• no agrochemicals
• fast-renewing resources
• low-impact or no-impact dying

Sewn in Chicago by workers who receive a fair and living wage.
Shipped using recycled materials"

And to keep it fashion-blog-esque, what I wore:

To work on Thursday, a green-ish gray corduroy knee-length A-line skirt that I made with my grandma probably when I was in early high school and have mended and patched countless times (perhaps the most worn and most versatile thing I own besides jeans), and a blue & yellow striped v-neck t-shirt that my grandma made me recently from a pattern I adapted from a dress (bodice & neckline lowered). I also brought a thin, long, (holey) mauve cardigan I got from Unique not long ago but only had to wear it for half the morning ride.

Thursday night on the roof: the shirt and some tight jeans that I bought at Unique and cut off at the knee, maroon suede bedazzled flats that I found in a free bin in my boyfriend's apartment building.

Friday, before I realized what a perfect day it was outside: jeans & piggly-wiggly tshirt. I have been offered $50 for this t-shirt after a show in Wrigleyville from a guy at a Taco Bell, and regret to this day having not sold it. I could always get another one for $5 at the grocery store back home. The Piggly-Wiggly also featured prominently in the conversation of the Dirty Hippies of Memphis, more information on that later.

Friday, after I realized it was a perfect day to make strawberry daiquiris and lounge on the roof: ragged old hand-me-down Abercrombie shorts, which are perfectly too big and threadbare, and a white eyelet camisole that I got from a roommate who was purging possessions. Blankets: my mom's floral comforter from high school, an unfinished piece of blue & black buffalo plaid wool that I liberated from grandma's fabric stash.

Today in the rain: pink Minnetonka moccasins I got at a thrift store, jeans, lacy pink cami from Unique, boyfriend's old threadbare blue and white striped buttondown.

Oh, and on Tuesday, I went to Village Discount in Pilsen, and got huraches from Brazil (which I'd been wanting since last summer) and are going to take some breaking-in, some Capezio dance shoes (practically new! magically comfortable stay-on-your-foot black heels, my work shoes for all the non-summer and non-snowing days), a textured off-white old Ralph Lauren scoopneck t-shirt, 3 children's books (only one of which I could bring myself to donate to the book drive I bought them for, the others are too gorgeously illustrated and strange to get rid off) and a 2008 planner featuring Japanese woodcut prints that I plan to cut out and use as postcards.

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