castle defense 101

20 09 2009

kstlPer my usual MO for pre-dawn hours, I was up at about 4 a.m., made coffee, fed the beasts, let the dog out and settled back on the couch for another few hours of intermittent interwebs wandering and maybe another 3 hour nap before facing what’s on the plate for today.  I was about to shut the lids again when it started.

Voices – loud voices – many loud voices in the street out in front of the house.  Much yelling.  The beast in the back yard added to the cacophony just before 6 a.m.  “Mmgonnabeatyoaaa…” screamed as if it were one word.  Stepping out on our porch the Dr. and I witnessed four powerful women (at least one is wielding a metal bat) circling a certain persona non grata.

There were words about unpaid child support…in no uncertain terms – a colorful script lifted directly from some old episode of The Wire.  Surely one repeated time and time and time again around urban settings far more exciting than ours. A few other neighbors watched from their porches too as “the intruder” turned and backed back down the street – still mouthing off, got into a waiting vehicle and sped off into the dusky darkness.

I felt proud of those women for defending themselves. Whatever it was he thought he was coming to get – he left without it. Just another good reminder to me that some people have more to worry about than what kind of ornamental grasses to plant in the backyard.

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood…

30 01 2009


Best Boy stepped out on the porch on his way to work early yesterday morning and before I knew it,  he was back in the door grabbing another coat.  He said there was a woman out in the street with a tank top on.  Way too curious for my own good, I had to check it out for myself.  Sure enough in all the snow, ice and single digits there she was in a tank top, capri pants and slippers.  It was the two other fashion accessories that really got me – a toothbrush in her mouth and a kitchen knife in her hand.

She needed to use a cell phone – could we help?  Of course…that’s why Best Boy had come back for the coat in the first place.  She dialed her number – commenting that he’d not answer anyway but left him a Tourettes induced voice mail.  It was fairly obvious that she was higher than a kite as she explained that the knife was because she was dealing with a 300 lb.#$%&@*#$ in there!  She thanked us for our kindness, slipped the coat off her shoulders and wandered back down the middle of the street to her house on the corner.  We lingered long enough to see the door open and a lot of punctuated speech ballons like you see in the cartoons rose in the frigid air.  

A few hours later I was at the grocery store when I overheard another interesting exchange.  

“You out now?”

“Yeah, got out yesterday”  

“You on parole or somethin’?”  


“How’s Rashida?”

“She good – you know I gots a baby by her now?”

“Yeah, I knew dat”

And within the next seconds someone else yelled across the aisles to the same person – “Sup cuz!”  There was lots of happiness in all those “homecoming” exchanges with a language all their own.

This is my neighborhood – and I love it.  The diversity reminds me that I live in a real world of real drama…more than the kind that happens within the confines of this hundred year old house. I had just heard a radio interview with someone from Detroit who said that when she saw The Wire she realized she wasn’t alone in the world. Other people were living her reality that was accurately depicted on the small screen.

It is far too easy to get caught up in my drama – the back and forth trips, the too vivid imagination when I am NOT there, two more weeks till the Dr. gets back, millions of things to do around a house and zero motivation to tackle them, and on and on.  

At 10:30 – the same morning – I was out on the back deck shoveling for the gazillionth time when I heard some sweet sounds in the relative quiet of the morning. Feathered friends – living in the same ‘hood – busy about their lives. It is amazing sometimes that so much can be happening all at once in just a few blocks of real estate in a mid-sized city, in a county not far from the Lake, in a northern state of the United States, on the continent of North America. Just think of all the drama you could watch from space!



9 12 2008

sc00058487Cotilla – busybody, nosy, gossiper…

There are places in Spain today where the above method of chatting it up with the neighbor is still the norm.  I used to  wonder what those tiny balconies were good for till I saw how they were really used.  Just big enough to step out and see what’s going on in the street below or whether Fulana’s laundry detergent is living up to expectations or to check on the health of her ailing tía abuela…time to talk, time for chismorreo.

I love the word – cotilla.  It’s a great little word that carries a lot of weight especially if you are accusing someone of being one.  Not with the negative weight of a “rat” or “snitch” but one who is quick to pass on information – true or not.

But I gotta LOVE being in the Chicagoland viewing area today.  Everyone is passing on information as fast as they can get it on the air.  Its all the buzz.  Stations are burning up with all the news from the Governor of Illinois’ office.  

I’m sorry – I’m within five episodes of finishing all 5 seasons of The Wire…and “yes, Virginia, there is…a wire!”  LIFE IMITATES ART!  I knew there were real Lester Freamons out there somewhere.

wish you were here…

30 11 2008

img_3923The sky is heavy with the threat of 4″ of snow today.  I know it is coming and I can feel it – enough years in the midwest have given me an internal sensor.  My motivation to get some things done today is reading three years’ of blog entries of someone I’m insanely jealous of (Tongue in Cheek).  Once I get done with my own scribblings, I will work awhile then read awhile…all day long.  She has blogged everyday for the last three years.  I want to be her when I grow up.  

So, I’m sorry I can’t be with you today but I am in the South of France.  All day.  I might be back tomorrow, but I can’t make any promises.

Our first trip to the French Riviera was a long weekend winter road trip from Madrid to Monaco.  Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the medieval village where Marc Chagall is buried was a must see.  The sweetest little hand painted pitcher changed addresses that day and still peeks at me from inside my alacena (cupboard or hutch) now 4,000 miles away from its original home.  Today it reminds me that travel enriches and heals my soul.  

I’m starting to recognize the pattern.  I need total escape days.  If I can just wallow here for a day or two, I’ll re-calibrate and find the necessary resources to get up again.  

Sometimes it comes in the form of a six back-to-back episodes of The Wire.  Or nine hours in bed…if you know me at all, you see red flags.  I’ve operated on very little sleep most of my life and insomniac episodes for months at a time.  But in these last months, it is my favorite time of the day when I am getting ready to enter that space. Deep, dreamless, dropping off of the edge of the world.  Knowing nothing between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

I can’t really do anything that requires conversations with anyone outside my tightest circle before noon when I’m here in the north.  After two or three cafe con leches and quiet computer time, I might get something accomplished by early afternoon.  It is now past noon, I’ll work a bit then treat myself to some more reading.

A perfect Sunday afternoon in the South of France…