Be Prepared...

In 2010, the History Museum is up for accreditation by the American Association of Museums, and as a part of that process, August was named "Safety Awareness Month" in order to bring staff up to snuff on issues of safety and disaster-preparedness. There have been CPR lessons available, a demonstration on the proper usage of fire extinguishers, a lecture on CHM's 1986 flood, and today the month culminated in an emergency response training exercise.

The magnitude of the 1986 flood had a deep impact on the museum's institutional memory. At the time, the museum was digging a massive hole adjacent to the building to create new basement storage space. The Chicago Park District, capable as ever, was only able to provide the museum's contractors with a rudimentary sense of where the water mains were located. Of course, the backhoe being used to dig the hole struck the main, unleashing a geyser of water that quickly began to fill the enormous trench. Further demonstrating their aptitude, Park District officials needed over three hours to find the controls to shut off the water flow, by which point the hole had filled with an estimated half million gallons of water. The tremendous pressure was more than the building's foundation could handle, and it gave way, filling the existing basement with water and mud. Furthermore, the electrical current still flowing through the water caused the water to heat up, causing additional damage to the collection materials that were in its path. Thankfully, due to the renovation, many of the collection materials had already been moved from the basement, but the museum's collection of bound periodicals, architectural drawings, paintings, and sculptures were all soaked. Staff members, several of which still work at the museum, worked day and night for weeks to try to rescue the collection. It was for a disaster of this scope that the current staff were summoned to train today.

To simulate a flood, conservation staff filled kiddie pools and plastic tubs full of dirty water and submerged layers of books, papers, framed artwork, and small objects. We were taught about how to prioritize items to be rescued -- paper and books will weaken and dissolve and inks will be bleed and become illegible the longer they are exposed to water. Clothing and fabrics are also quite susceptible to water damage. Non-porous objects, such as plastics and ceramics, can be left in the water much longer while other items are being attended to, although wooden items require special controlled drying to prevent warping and splitting.

Conservators operated stations where they taught us rudimentary conservation techniques that would be helpful in case of emergency. Books must be rinsed to remove debris, squeezed of excess moisture, wrapped on three sides with wax or parchment paper to prevent covers from bleeding and sticking together, and packed tightly into crates with their spines alternating for compression to help hold their shape. The crates are then sent to freeze drying facilities. Papers must be carefully separated, rinsed, and laid between blotting papers to dry, and photographs are preserved the same way. Clothing is more complicated, as garments must be padded out with non-absorbent materials to help them maintain their shape, otherwise they will dry into contorted forms that are difficult to undo. Framed artwork must be disassembled and dried, lest water linger between the frame and the canvas and cause mold growth. In some cases, such as clothing and paper, items made be frozen to hold them in stasis until there is time for proper drying and conservation. During CHM's 1986 flood, for instance, Chicago-based food company Sara Lee donated industrial freezer space for object storage while items were being processed.

It was a fascinating exercise, and an interesting insight into the operations of the work of our conservation staff. There is not much fraternizing between different departments at the museum, so it was good to see what other people do with their time, and benefit from their expertise. My only complaint about the entire experience was that it was roughly two hours long, and was held outside in full sunlight on a humid, 90 degree day. By the end, nobody was volunteering for hands-0n experiences with the objects, and no one had any questions. People just wanted to get back to their air-conditioned desks. Even so, I'm glad I participated, as it definitely added a little much-needed excitement to an average day at the office.


A Religious Experience - Part Two

Holy Trinity Cathedral
1121 North Leavitt Street
Chicago, IL

Lest this series become completely inundated with Catholic churches, for my second entry in this series I decided to visit an Orthodox church -- one that had a great deal of influence on my decision to embark on this project in the first place. Earlier this month, when I went to see the Louis Sullivan exhibit at the Cultural Center, I discovered that among Sullivan's few remaining structures in the city is Holy Trinity Cathedral, an Orthodox church in Chicago's Ukrainian Village neighborhood, designed by Sullivan in 1899. I thought it would be fitting to go visit it, having seen the exhibit, and it occurred to me that if I was going to visit one historic church, I might as well turn it into a local tourism project and see as many as I could.

Construction was completed on Holy Trinity in 1903, and was financed in large part by Czar Nicholas II.

Atypical of Sullivan's usual style on the outside, the church is meant to echo traditional provincial Russian architecture, including such features as an octagonal dome and bell tower. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see the exterior of the building due to the surrounding foliage.

Sullivan's design sensibility is apparent in small details, and in the elaborate scroll work and geometric motifs decorating the interior. One can also see in this photo the extensive damage to the exterior of the church. The stucco on the facade is badly deteriorated, as are much of the wooden window trimmings. I felt so badly for them that I contributed $5 to their restoration fund.

The interior of the church is particular evocative of Sullivan's style, where virtually no inch of space is left devoid of ornament. The church is only open for visitors on Saturday afternoons, but it was clearly the ideal time to be there, as the lighting was perfect. I was particularly impressed with the iconostasis, the icon-adorned screen that separates the sanctuary from the nave of the church. Only clergy may pass through the doors in the center and enter the sanctuary to conduct masses. All Orthodox churches face east, and the priest conducts the ceremony facing the altar, with his back to the congregation.

Elaborate geometric patterns adorn many of the interior surfaces, including the stained glass windows.

Orthodoxy is rife with symbolism, and the veneration of icons is a fundamental practice within the church.

Even if the cathedral was much smaller than expected (I think the application of the name "cathedral" to the structure is a little superfluous), and a little run-down, it was still worth the journey to a neighborhood I'd never before set foot in to visit. Not only was I able to witness the scope and breadth of Sullivan's talents, I was able to experience a taste of a religion with which I had never previously had contact. It was a good reinforcement of why I started this project in the first place -- to experience new things and see more of my beloved city. I haven't yet picked my next target, but I'm already looking forward to it, wherever it may be.


A Religious Experience - Part One

When I was born, my parents decided not to baptize me into the Catholic faith in which they had been raised. They wanted me to be able to make my own informed decisions on matters of religion when I got old enough. Here, at the ripe old age of 25, I can say that I still don't know. I'm not prepared to say with any certainty whether or not God exists, although I generally believe there are forces larger than myself at play in the universe. To me, Jesus was a man who had some very good ideas, a few of which have been used by some of his followers for less-than-honorable purposes. I just try to treat others as I would like to be treated myself, and hope that the positive energy I put into the world comes back to me somehow. For me, that is enough.

Although I am not a religious person, I do find myself fascinated by religious architecture. I think my interest began when I took AP Art History in high school, where I had to memorize all the different architectural elements of Gothic cathedrals. The next time I found myself in Europe, I enjoyed being able to identify all the different components I had studied, and my new appreciation for religious art only grew from there. Nowadays, religious sites, whether they be churches, mosques, temples, or shrines, are always at the top of my sightseeing lists when I travel, often to the chagrin of my traveling companions.

Recently, it occurred to me that I've been overlooking the wealth of ecclesiastic architecture right here in my home town. Since I won't be traveling abroad this year, why not treat Chicago as I would any other global city? I think it's easy to take for granted the sights that surround you all the time, figuring you have an unlimited amount of time to see them. It's easy to procrastinate, and eventually, never see them at all. So, loyal readers, I have decided to embark upon a little pilgrimage of my own here at The State I Am In, and take myself on a tour of religious Chicago in an ongoing series. My goal is to try to see one church a week, and share my findings with you. I'm so serious about this plan that I even trekked to the public library last weekend to study up on Chicago's historical churches, and draft my very own local tourism to-do list. Hopefully you will find my project as fascinating as I do, and not be bored to tears...

Holy Name Cathedral
735 North State Street
Chicago, IL

For my first entry, I decided to go straight to the nexus of Catholicism in the city of Chicago -- Holy Name Cathedral. Dedicated in 1875, Holy Name is the seat of the Chicago Archdiocese, and the Archbishop of Chicago (who is presently actually a Cardinal), Francis George. The original church on the present day site was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but that church was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, and the replacement building was rededicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. Tremendous funding difficulties at the time of construction forced the original structure to be rather spartan in nature. Numerous subsequent renovations have contributed to the level of ornamentation currently visible inside the building.

Located in the heart of the city, Holy Name's limestone structure is dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers.

The elaborate walnut and oak vaulted ceiling was added in an 1890 renovation, but was almost destroyed in a 2009 fire. The fire, caused by faulty electrical wiring during another renovation project, destroyed much of the ceiling and roof. I can remember watching the church burn on television, as the fire crews struggled to quell the flames due to frigid temperatures that froze their water as they sprayed it. I still remember the images of the icicles that hung down from the charred ceiling. It's amazing how quickly they were able to restore it!

Hanging in the apse of the cathedral above the altar are the galeros, or ceremonial hats of Chicago's cardinals. Upon their passing, their hats were suspended from the ceiling, where they will hang until they turn to dust, symbolizing the transience of our mortal existence. From left to right are the galeros of Cardinals Meyer (1903-1965), Bernadin (1928-1996), Mundelein 1872-1939), Cody (1907-1982), and Stritch (1887-1958). This tradition was formally discontinued by Vatican II, but it persists in Chicago.

The magnificent oak organ was donated to the church inthe 1980s, and is one of the largest in the United States.

I've always been a sucker for stained glass.

Flanking each side of the nave is a series of high-relief sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross, created by Italian artist Goffredo Verginelli. I was moved by their rustic, evocative style.

Although Holy Name was a bit brighter and shinier than most of the cathedrals I've visited abroad, I was still impressed, especially with its splendid ceiling. It was hard to believe that all of that beauty has been there all along, unnoticed, as I passed by it day after day on the bus going home. For some reason, however, I felt a little awkward and uncertain as I entered the building, almost as if I were intruding. I think being a tourist in a foreign country gives one a sense of boldness about entering into unknown places, plus, the guide books usually give guidelines for what times are appropriate for a visit. Hopefully, I'll overcome my sense of being out of place as this project moves forward, and I can't wait to see what other gems lie in store for me to discover...


I Saw The Sign...

Some time ago, I brought you a post on another one of my quirkier fascinations -- ghost signs. Lest you think I've been slacking on the job, I've remained diligently on the lookout for them, and spotted several over the weekend while I was out collecting photos of Louis Sullivan's architecture in the Loop. Once again, I never cease to be amazed that I can pass by certain ones all the time, but not notice them until a special day comes along and I become suddenly and joyously aware of their existence. It's almost as if the universe knows I need a pick-me-up and reveals the presence of a ghost sign to inject a little happiness into my day.

This ad for Boston Stone is located in the heart of the Loop, visible from State and Washington. I've seen it many times but never taken a moment to photograph it.

I spotted this one on Wabash, the nerve center for ghost signs in the Loop. I assume there are so many ads painted on the buildings because the El runs past them, and they haven't been painted over as in the rest of the city because Wabash has a general atmosphere of dodginess that isn't evident elsewhere.

Similarly, I passed this sign further south on Wabash. Definitely a red-letter day for ghost sign hunting in the Loop!


At The Zoo...

After weeks of miserably oppressive heat, today the temperatures finally descended to a level comfortable enough for me to wish I wasn't spending my day cooped up indoors. Rare indeed is the day that I want to be outside, and as luck would have it, the opportunity to go out and enjoy the weather literally came ringing when Brandon, my coworker and fellow elongated coin enthusiast called me at my desk to inform me that he'd heard of a new Mold-a-Rama machine at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Brandon and I have also bonded in the past over our love of Mold-a-Rama machines, although he collects the figurines made from them and I do not. I merely harbor fond memories of the ones my mom would occasionally allow me to make at museums when I was a child, and the nostalgic aroma that wafts from the machines whenever I pass one. To me, it's one of the smells of childhood.

Brandon told me he was going to head over to the zoo during his lunch break, and I asked if I could tag along to make the pressed pennies at the zoo that had been missing from my Chicago collection. Since he already knew where the machines were located, we could make an efficient surgical strike and be back at the museum in under an hour. A quick stop at the bank to pick up a roll of quarters for the machines, and we were on our way.

Since we had so little time, and were focused more on indulging our nerdy hobbies than exploring the zoo itself, we really saw very little of the animal collection. I snapped a quick photo of these cuties, but forgot to read the label to see what they were. Based on the zoo's website and a bit of googling, I think they might be wallabies.

Naptime at the flamingo enclosure.

Brandon getting his new green gorilla.

Getting out of the office for a little lunchtime field trip was an exhilarating respite from my usual work routine, and I'm grateful to Brandon for getting me out of my office and over to the zoo. Never underestimate the power of a little fresh air and a change of scenery to cure a case of "the Mondays..."


Coming Full Circle...

Coincidentally, around this time last year, I wrote about the glorious glass mosaic ceiling designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany for the atrium of the original Marshall Field's department store. Yesterday, since I found myself at the cultural center, less than a block from the old Marshall Field's building, I decided to check out their dual stained glass domes. My interest had been piqued in them by an article I'd read some time ago about the massive 2007 restoration project undertaken on one of the pair, also designed by Tiffany, but for whatever reason, I hadn't gotten around to checking them out for myself.

The Tiffany dome is billed as the largest Tiffany art glass dome in the world. It dates back to 1897, when the building that is now the Cultural Center was opened in its original incarnation as the first Chicago Public Library. In the 1930s, well-meaning officials covered the exterior of the dome with a copper sheath and fitted it with electric backlighting in an effort to protect the glass from the elements. During the restoration, each of the roughly 30,000 pieces of glass were numbered, labeled, and removed. The copper dome was also removed, and replaced with a high-tech, UV-blocking glass dome, in order to allow natural light to shine through the glass once more. The glass pieces were carefully cleaned and restored to their original pastel color palette, and broken pieces were replaced. Ultimately, the goal for the project was to return the dome to Tiffany's original vision.

Tiffany also designed the light fixtures and the mosaics that adorn the room, which is largely used today for private events such as weddings.

The oculus of the dome features a astrological motif.

The Cultural Center's other dome was designed by the Chicago firm of Healy & Millet, and features a military theme in keeping with the space's original use as a memorial to Union soldiers that had served in the Civil War.

In the early 1970s, the library's collection had long outgrown its building, opting to relocate to another facility. The original 1897 structure faced demolition, much like a slew of other historic buildings that were being razed to make room for skyscrapers and other contemporary developments. Then mayor, Richard J. Daley convened a blue-ribbon panel to suggest recommendations for the site, but his wife, the normally publicity shy Sis Daley organized a movement to preserve the library building. Not surprisingly, the committee recommended to save it. Adlai Stevenson furthered the preservationist cause by engineering the building's addition to the National Register of Historic Places. Across the remainder of the 1970s and 1980s, the building morphed into the Cultural center as it is now used today, a venue for art exhibitions, music performances, and dance events that are free for all to enjoy.


Form Follows Function...

Ever the contrarian, I decided to eschew the obvious choice for entertainment this weekend in Chicago (the annual Air & Water Show, the second most popular festival in the city), in favor of a visit to the Cultural Center with Irene. She was interested in checking out their new exhibit on the architecture of Louis Sullivan, and since I live relatively close to the Cultural Center, and we've established a bit of a tradition of going there together, we decided to make an afternoon of it.

Louis Sullivan is a luminary in the field of architecture, not just Chicago architecture. He is considered to be the father of modern architecture, as he was one of the first architects to draw inspiration from within rather than historical sources. Prior to that time, much architecture consisted of revival movements of previous styles -- Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Neoclassical, or Italianate (a rehashing of Renaissance motifs) to name a few. Sullivan embraced the new technology of steel-frames to create buildings of ever-increasing height, and was instrumental in the creation of the modern skyscraper.

Sullivan, who originally hailed from Massachusetts, relocated to Chicago in 1873 to capitalize on the explosion in building work that resulted from the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 which destroyed four square miles in the heart of the city. The photo above shows the extent of the devastation.

Although Sullivan, also a noted theorist and critic in the field of architecture, coined the term, "Form follows function," which was later interpreted to mean that buildings should be stripped of ornament beyond essential structural function, Sullivan's style was notable for his intensive use of Art Nouveau, botanical, and geometric motifs. Instead of stone, he clad his buildings in the lighter terra cotta and cast iron, which he favored not only for their practicality but for their greater malleability in creating elaborate patterns.

My favorite story from the exhibition was related to the photo above, which shows a pedestrian walkway connecting the Carson Pirie Scott department store directly to the El station at Madison and Wabash. The builders had not obtained city permission to construct the walkway, instead erecting one night under the cover of darkness. The next day, city officials were outraged, but the store was ultimately allowed to maintain the structure. It no longer exists today, but the story reminded me of a tactic favored by our current mayor, Richard M. Daley, who bulldozed the runways at Meigs Field, a private airport on the city's lakefront, in the middle of the night in 2003 to allegedly protect the city from the threat of terrorism. No matter that the Mayor had been trying to close the airport in the face of pressure from influential aviation groups since 1994...

Although the exhibit consisted mainly of photographs, architectural drawings, and building fragments, it was surprisingly compelling. My only complaint was the utilization of space in the galleries. In order to convey maximum detail, the exhibit utilized monumental over-sized photos that stretched from above the normal eyeline to within a foot or so of the floor. Often, the labels for these photos were located underneath them, so low to the ground that the audience practically had to sit on the floor to read them. I'm not sure what the exhibition designers were thinking there -- it would have been much more user-friendly if the labels had been located at eye level next to the photos, not below them.

After we finished at the Cultural Center, I decided to take advantage of the relatively tolerable temperatures in the shade and walk the mile and half back to my apartment. I opted to give myself a tour of some of the few remaining Sullivan buildings in the city. First, I passed by the Carson Pirie Scott Building, which is protected by its place on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. Dating back to 1899, the ornate cast iron facade on the building's ground floor was ostensibly functional -- it was hoped it would attract customers and draw them through the door.

Sullivan-esque attention to detail.

My other visit was to the Auditorium Building, built by the firm of Adler & Sullivan in 1889. Uncharacteristically, it employs a hulking load-bearing exterior instead of the steel frame usually employed by Sullivan. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building in the city of Chicago, and the largest building in the entire country. Hyperbolic accounts from early visitors alleged that people could see Iowa from the top of the structure. Originally, the building housed a hotel, offices, and the Lyric Opera company, which moved to its own facility at the Civic Opera House in 1929, causing the theater portion of the building to close during the Great Depression. Roosevelt University moved into the structure in 1947 after it was founded to educate returning G.I.s from World War II. The theater was reopened in the 1960s, but was not restored to its original finishes until 2001.

I was glad that Irene invited me out to see the Sullivan exhibit, as it forced me to look at the city with fresh eyes. So often we go about our daily lives and take for granted the history and beauty that surrounds us, but it is always good to be reminded to take the time to stop and appreciate it all.


An Update...

Last month I brought you the story of my sleepless night at the Center for Sleep Medicine, as part of my ongoing quest to discover the cause of my constant sleepiness. Today, I met with my doctor there to discuss the results of the study. As it turned out, the test was largely inconclusive. I did have some sleep apnea events, but only at a rate of six per hour. Five or fewer is considered normal, so six would be the mildest of mild cases. The doctor felt that it was not enough to explain my levels of excessive daytime tiredness, so she would like to conduct another study, this time an evening study paired with a daytime sleep latency test the following day.

A sleep latency test consists of a series of monitored naps taken at various intervals throughout the day. It looks for how quickly one falls asleep when napping, and how quickly one enters REM sleep during a nap. This is the test for narcolepsy. I'm scheduled to have mine in mid-September, so I'll be sure to keep you posted on how it goes as well.


Go Fly A Kite...

They say that when life gives you lemons, it's time to make lemonade, right? That's why, instead of sitting in my apartment all weekend feeling sorry for myself and smarting over my breakup and subsequently canceled weekend getaway, I decided to go home, where there would be company and more food than I had in the refrigerator at the condo. Since my decision was somewhat of a impulsive affair, Mom and I decided to take an equally spur of the moment trip to the Chicago Botanic Gardens (located near our house, and not, as one might think, in Chicago) for their annual Kite Festival.

I only wish I could say that we had a better time there. I truly think it would have been a pleasant way to pass the day, if we'd planned more in advance before we left the house. As one might expect, the day's activities were held in a treeless field located in the prairie restoration portion of the Botanic Garden, which afforded very little shade. We had no floppy hats, no sunscreen, and no bottled water. We also neglected to bring our own collapsible chairs, as many of the other attendees had done. There was little to do but stand in the sun and snap a few photos. Then, my camera battery died after about fifteen minutes. Good going me.

The kites themselves were lovely, however, and it was a perfect day for flying, with just enough wind.

The Kite Festival offers a combination of stunt kite performances by local kite societies, as well as an opportunity for children and amateur adult kite enthusiasts to practice their flying skills. There is also, of course, a stand where you can buy a new kite if you feel motivated to give it a try yourself. For my part, I didn't feel compelled to give flying a go (in fact, I only have a very dim childhood memory of ever doing it, and no idea which parent I was with at the time), but I was impressed with the precision and control of the stunt kite performers. One was able to steer his so accurately as to knock the hat off of one of the Festival's announcers.

That said, we didn't stay very long after my camera battery died. It was simply too hot and sunny to be outside unprotected. I was glad that we went though, if only to get an some usage out of Mom's Botanic Garden membership, and to get out of the house a bit. It was definitely good to see Mom out and about and finally feeling better after her surgery, and that alone would have been enough to merit the trip home.


A Bittersweet Symphony...

I know a lot of people aren't going to understand this, but I actually kind of like being sad. In small doses. I think it's better to own my emotions, let myself feel them, allow myself a catharsis (usually in the form of intense weeping), and then ride the endorphins that come from a good cry. It's why I treat myself to a monthly PMS-related viewing of The Notebook or Beaches. (Seriously, are there sadder movies out there? I think these films are basically like kryptonite to women. I defy you to watch them and not shed a tear.) So, in the spirit of soaking in the melancholy of my current predicament and giving myself space to feel everything I need to feel to get it out of my system, I decided to make myself a playlist of my favorite breakup songs.

Breakups are no time for showcasing one's taste in music. In fact, it's more of a time to turn to the comforts of the "guilty pleasures" that lurk in the dark corners of your iTunes collection. Sometimes, that's exactly what you need. For instance, nobody does schmaltzy heartbreak anthems quite like Barry Manilow, whose music I inherited a taste for from my mother. For angst and righteous indignation, I turn to my high-school musical heroine, Fiona Apple. This is the kind of music that I save for special occasions.

For my playlist, I wanted to capture the full range of breakup emotions, and take myself on a little musical journey. And then I decided to share it with all of you, because hey, we've all been there. So here you go, Haley's Essential Breakup Songs, organized by emotions, complete with what I consider to be the key lyric from each:

Sadness (The first stage of a breakup)
  • "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" - Colin Hay, Key Lyric: Don't want you thinking I'm unhappy/What is closer to the truth/I just don't think I'll ever get over you
  • "Photographs and Memories" - Jim Croce, Key Lyric: Photographs and memories/All the love you gave to me/Somehow it just can't be true/It's all I've left of you
  • "Love Ridden" - Fiona Apple, Key Lyric: I want your warmth/But it will only make me colder/When it's Over
  • "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes" - Beck, Key Lyric: I need your loving/Like the sunshine/But everybody's gotta learn sometimes
  • "Everybody Hurts" - R.E.M., Key Lyric: Everybody cries/And everybody hurts, sometimes
  • "Foundations" - Kate Nash, Key Lyric: My fingertips are holding onto/The cracks in our foundation/And I know that I should let go/But I can't
Bitterness (It happens, don't deny it)
  • "How's It Gonna Be" - Third Eye Blind (this is actually my favorite breakup song of all time), Key Lyric: I wonder how it's gonna be/When it goes down/How's it gonna be/When you're not around/How's it gonna be/When you find out there was nothing between you and me
  • "Read 'Em And Weep" - Barry Manilow, Key Lyric: Well I could tell you "goodbye"/Or "maybe see you around"/With just a touch of a sarcastic "Thanks"
  • "Barely Breathing" - Duncan Sheik, Key Lyric: 'Cause I am barely breathing/And I can't find the air/I don't know who I'm kidding/Imagining you care
  • "Get Gone" - Fiona Apple, Key Lyric: 'Cause I've done what I could for you/And I do know what's good for me/And I'm not benefiting/Instead I'm sitting/Singing again
  • "Tainted Love" - Soft Cell, Key Lyric: Once I ran to you/Now I run from you/This tainted love you've given/I gave you all a boy could give you/Take my tears and that's not nearly all
Acceptance (Aah, finally)
  • "Some Good Things Never Last" - Barry Manilow, Key Lyric: No matter how hard we try/Some good things never last/But what good is holding on/When you know/That all you can think about/Is letting go
  • "Some Day You Will Be Loved" - Death Cab For Cutie, Key Lyric: You'll be loved/You'll be loved/Like you never have known/And your memories of me/Will seem more like bad dreams/Just a series of blurs/Like I never occurred
  • "Better in Time" - Leona Lewis, Key Lyric: I'm gonna smile/'Cause I deserve to/It'll all get better in time
  • "Don't Look Back In Anger" - Oasis, Key Lyric: Don't look back in anger/I heard you say/At least not today
  • "Cool" - Gwen Stefani, Key Lyric: After all the obstacles/It's good to see you now with someone else/After all that we've been through/I know we're cool
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I didn't share this to solicit sympathetic remarks in the comments, but more to give you a laugh, or some ideas if you're going through some heartbreak of your own. So instead of having a pity party, why don't you share your favorite breakup song? Surely everybody has one.


This Is The End...

I often find myself trying to impose a narrative on events in my life. It's easier to believe that there is a logical flow of occurrences and reactions, and that they have some sort of inherent meaning that enhances one's understanding of the world. For instance, I had already selected my narrative for this weekend. I was going to take a weekend trip to St. Louis with my boyfriend, revisit old memories from the past, and forge new ones as well. I was going to talk about my favorite spots in the city and the joy of sharing them with someone new in my life. But then we broke up.

So instead, I was going to turn my weekend into a narrative of triumph. I was going to go to St. Louis on my own, spend time reconnecting with old friends there, and reconnecting with myself and who I am all on my own. But Mom didn't think it was a good idea for me to drive six hours on my own, given how little I've been driving these past few years.

Now here I am, $400 poorer from a non-refundable pre-paid hotel room, with nothing to say, and little sense to impose on the matter. The last time this happened I was full of pithy similes and ready to tie up the experience with a tidy little bow. This time around, all I can say is that life is messy, and it seldom turns out the way we expect.

Relationships are hard, and breakups are harder. If they weren't, musicians and poets the world over would have significantly less source material. It will take time to find the lessons in this experience, and time to be ready to try again. Until then, I'm almost looking forward to spending some quality time with myself, and I'll be sure to let you know how it goes...