17 July 2008

pictorial update essay, pt. 5--anniversaries

On June 30 we made it to our 1st Anniversary – much to our own great surprise. Despite being extremely busy with school stuff, Jeremy found a way to sneak around and craft an incredible surprise treasure hunt. I came home from work on July 3 to find an empty house and a poem about zombies. Tres romantique! The poem led me to a glass head sculpture where Jeremy had hidden the next clue – a list of “inside references” that we’d cultivated over the last year about locations in our neighborhood. So I got on my bike and criss-crossed the neighborhood collecting sealed envelopes from under mailboxes, behind street signs, and from local shopkeepers.

Each envelope held a line from one of our favorite songs – “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies – which, when I put them in order, provided latitude and longitude coordinates. So I used the GPS to follow them downtown to where Jeremy had managed to get us an executive suite at the Hyatt, overlooking Lake Michigan, the river, and Navy Pier. After getting our free happy hour and dessert buffet, we walked 5 minutes to the Independence Day fireworks over the lake. What a clever clever boy!

The next day, the 4th of July, we wandered downtown for a while, watched the kids playing in the fountains in Millenium Park and finally headed to a friend’s BBQ. And then, the REAL fun began… as the sun started to set in Pilsen, the cars disappeared from the streets as families emerged with literally armloads of fireworks. From about 8 pm to 2 am, our neighborhood was about as close to a war zone as I ever hope to get – smoke billowing through the streets, explosions everywhere, sparks and shrapnel flying, booms, cracks, hisses, and ratatats echoing off of buildings. At one point we had to ride our bikes through it, and we can attest to the fact that fearing for your life is a great adrenaline rush.

From the roof our building, we could see probably thousands of fireworks being set off all across the city. It was the best 4th of July ever – a 360 degree panoramic show. Here's a video of a little bit of what it looked (and sounded) like:

16 July 2008

pictorial update essay, pt. 4--nebraska

After Sigur Rós, we went on to Lincoln and enjoyed several days of awesomeness and fun. During the rest of our stay, we spent lots of time with the Howes, enjoyed expanses of green grass such as Chicago has not seen for some time, ate excellent food (Jeremy's nephew Landon especially enjoyed his ice cream, as you can see), enjoyed Lincoln, played with kittens (and more kittens!) and other examples of Nebraskan wildlife, saw more friends, went bike riding, and – best of all – got to borrow the kayaks for a couple afternoons to cruise the rivers and creeks and enjoy ourselves thoroughly. Here's some photographic evidence of our exploits:

On the water, kayaking like explorers on the Amazon (that's what we were pretending, anyway).

Do you know how hard it is to get a shot like this from separate kayaks? It's really hard.


By the end of our visit, the recent tornadoes and rainfall had only exacerbated the rising floodwaters in Iowa, and on the way home, we were forced to take a 4 hour detour around the river. Even that was a close call, as we found ourselves in water up to the hubcaps at one crossing. We stopped for lunch in Iowa City, only to find our Burger King underwater. It is a very surreal thing to look down a street and see familiar distinctions like curbs and white dashes and stop signs all erased while the wide expanse of water slides smoothly and seamlessly from building to building. Note also our friends Chase and Kara, who were very open to exploring and enjoying the adventure (such as it was), except for the part where the detours meant we didn't get home until 1 or 2am...none of us were particularly excited about that. But we made it home in one piece, and thankfully, dry.

Coming up next: the 4th of July and anniversary celebrations! Stay tuned!

14 July 2008

pictorial update essay, pt. 3--sigur ros

editor’s note: this post was, in an inspiring display of marital harmony and compromise, co-written by jeremy and kim. democracy!

after the bike crash and the beginning of the euro, we come chronologically to our great trip west, to nebraska. the timing of this trip coincided (not coincidentally) with a sigur ros show in omaha. but we cracked open the ol’ wallet and found that 6 hours of gas each way was going to cost us a pretty penny. so we put an ad on craigslist for company, and got two students from the art institute to join us--chase (who looks vaguely like a musketeer) and kara (who appears to be leasing out her clothes and skin to be a safety pin breeding ground). but as the return trip was more interesting than the first leg, we'll hear more about them later and skip right ahead to the show.

in omaha, we met our nebraska friends for dinner in the old market and ate our corn-fed beef while listening to tornado warning sirens wail outside the windows. just as we were leaving we heard the service staff telling everyone in the restaurant to move away from the windows. a sane person would probably conclude it'd be better to stay put for a minute, but a sane person would run the risk of missing the show--not an option! about 5 steps out the door of the restaurant, a torrential downpour began and we became almost instantly soaked. we ran the 4 blocks to the theatre and arrived soggy and dripping, to discover a scene something like this:

i'm borrowing the photo from pitchfork here, but the point is that those several hundred people were all huddled together under the marquee, shrinking back from the rain. we squished ourselves into the edge of (only slightly drier) people, and there were told that there was a tornado warning, and they weren't letting people in until it passed. let's take a paragraph break while that fema-style disaster management sets in, shall we?

the ushers watched us sternly from the warm, dry other side of the glass for 45 minutes, until it was deemed safe enough to enter. even then, we were only allowed to wander around the lobby. by the time the concert had been delayed 2 hours, the humid, steamy mass of people was beginning to foment into the beginnings of a rebellion, when from the underbelly of the theatre we heard the sound of horns and drums. we followed the music and pushed our way through a crowd of onlookers, past a couple ushers, and down a flight of stairs to find ourselves face to face with the members of sigur ros and amiina. we were so close we could smell the sweat and feel the vibrations of the drums as they created this joyous impromptu drum circle in the basement. after a while, they marched off to other parts of the basement, and a little while later, the real concert started.

the concert itself was great. this was (i’m trying my best not to brag here) my fourth time seeing them, and other than the time i met jonsi before the show and he put me on the guest list (really trying!) or the time i was in the second row and brushed wayne coyne’s butt as i walked by him (trying really really hard!), this was definitely the best show i’ve ever seem them do. they are touring their new album with a 13-piece ensemble—the band, amiina (the string quartet), and a five piece horn troupe. the sound was enormous, and even though the show at times felt like a dress rehearsal (this was a 4-show tour that included a completely unadvertised show in omaha, nebraska, after all), it was a really great experience and i assume was incredibly inspiring and moving for all in attendance (other than kim, of course, who fell asleep at various times throughout). as the internet is already littered with pictures of jonsi grimacing as he sings and plays, here's a shot of the aftermath.

stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment with even more nebraskan adventures.