“If he’s even halfway responsible for the man you are now, then I’m really sad that I didn’t know him.”

As a per-diem (part-time) facilitator for StoryCorps, I get to meet many amazing people. I recently had the pleasure of facilitating some interviews at Access Living, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. There I heard the story of a man whose love for his disabled brother led to an entire career. You can listen here.

While you’re at it, you can also download the brand-new StoryCorps app and record your own interview–which will be archived at the Library of Congress. Not kidding. As I recently saw someone comment on Facebook: “You know how you would love to hear the voices of your great-great-grandparents? Your great-great-grandchildren are going to feel the same way.”

Summertime, and the living is busy

Just a quick note to wave hello and send out good-summer vibes to the known and unknown universes. I’m staying busy these days creating content for the Art Institute, plus keeping up with my usual motley array of freelance work. Now and then I go someplace, usually on the heels of my husband, who runs around the globe like most people run around the block. So far this year we’ve hit Australia (hot, fun, big) and Canada (cold, fun, big). And I’m reading up a storm. Not that he needs any signal boosting from me, but if you haven’t read this David Sedaris piece about his FitBit obsession, you really must. And I just re-read this amazing book┬áby Melissa Fay Greene, a National Book Award nominee who writes hilariously and poignantly about her family’s experiences with overseas adoption. Can’t recommend enough.

“The Chicagoans” on TV tonight

I’m thrilled to report that one of the short films from the series I’ve been working on with Groundfire Pictures, “The Chicagoans,” will air tonight on the PBS show “Local, USA.” You can catch it at 8 PM on WTTW 11.3 (NOT regular ol’ WTTW Channel 11!), Comcast 369, or RCN Cable 38. Ours is the film about Mae Ya Ryan Carter, a local singing prodigy who has been called the reincarnation of Mahalia Jackson. Enjoy!

New jam Tuesday

“New Jam Tuesday” sounds like it could be a real thing, doesn’t it? Don’t get your hopes up of it happening again, but: I do have a couple of new-to-me tunes to recommend, thanks to iTunes and my random decision to ask it to make a playlist based on the Jackson 5’s “ABC” this morning while I was getting ready. Here they are:

1. “I Wish It Would Rain,” The Temptations. Looooooord. Masculine emotophobia never sounded so good. Plus this lead me to learn more about lead singer David Ruffin and his trademark glasses. A posthumous fist bump to my bespectacled brother. Yes.

2. “Hide Nor Hair,” Ray Charles. She ran off with your doctor? That’s cold.

USA Today . . . today

I’m thrilled to report that the Peaceful Places series is featured in today’s edition of USA Today! In Chicago, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and Harold Washington Library Center Winter Garden are called out. Yay.

Chicagoans goes 3-D

The wonderful folks at Groundfire Pictures and I have collaborated on some short online films starring a few of the people who’ve appeared in my Chicago Reader series, “Chicagoans,” over the last three years. Check them out here, won’t you?

In December, Mike Stephen of Outside the Loop Radio interviewed me about the project. You can listen in here.

And, if you just can’t get enough of me, I’ll be speaking at the University of Chicago Divinity School on Wednesday, February 6th, about the Chicagoans project (both the print series and the films). If you’d like to come, let me know and I’ll send you the details.


By the way

I did a couple of guest posts for my friend Rachel’s blog, Being Finite, while she was away. Rachel is a great friend and a great writer, and if you happen to be an agent, please go represent her novel right now. Thank you.

A postcard from the writing life

According to Wikipedia, in the days before elevators, the garret was the “least prestigious position in a building.” While the third-floor garret (a.k.a. “home office”) I write in is much nicer than Jo March’s or Sara Crewe’s, I can attest that it is not a particularly prestigious space. This was brought to my attention yesterday when one of the cats–the one who has a strangely laissez-faire attitude about using the litter box–decided to take a whiz on the carpet by my desk. I picked him up and put him in the litter box as soon as he was finished, and he looked at me like, “Lady, what are you doing? I’m done!” and hopped out again. (Yes, we have taken him to the vet, changed the brand of litter, etc. He’s just a pee-when-he-feels-like-it kind of guy. Good thing he’s cute.)

How to stay peaceful during Chicago’s hottest summer on record

1. Wait till twilight.

2. Put on bathing suit.*

3. Locate lake.

4. Enter lake, slowly, up to neck.

5. Enjoy feeling of ridged sand on bottom of feet.

6. Enjoy feeling of cool, clear water on entire body.

7. Enjoy sight of lake meeting the sky.

8. Enjoy absence of stickiness and sweat.

*Depending on your location, this step may be optional. I’m not asking questions.

Thanks to Flickr user drrt for photo.