End of an era

For the last few years, no matter what, every Memorial Day Weekend has been spent in the pursuit of booze, techno, and decay in the streets of Detroit at an event known by various names officially, but always as DEMF (Detroit Electronic Music Festival) to those who love it. Except for the first year we went, our lodgings have been at a place called the Shorecrest Motor Inn; a glorious dive within walking distance of the festival where just about anything goes. Over the years, the Shorecrest has provided us with a dry, unclean place to load up, and then sleep it off while the events outside unfolded. This morning at about 10am CST I called them up and canceled our two hotel rooms for DEMF weekend; the lady at the desk, who has taken my calls almost every year, was touchingly disappointed by the news. Undoubtedly those rooms will be booked again by the end of the day, but I can guarantee you that the Shorecrest, and DEMF perhaps, will be forever changed by the loss.
Over the years, our crew, though ever changing on the fringes, has been comprised of a core group of revelers who were willing to drive hundreds of miles to take part in that annual ritual of noise and fun that we called DEMF; in more recent days, these people have fallen off the routine for various reasons. The event itself changed over the years as well. We have seen the gradual change from DEMF being a free event where white suburban raver kids danced along side native Detroiters, drug addicts, random homeless, and just curious folk that heard about it and decided to wander into the city from Flint and elsewhere - all the way to being an expensive ticketed item with security, elaborate lighting, massive sound and more. While many things have changed, for better or worse, one can always count on the music to be amazing, and after hours to be wondrous all-night affairs, and the cab drives extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Urban camping became the term for what we took part in - sleeping wherever one could find a comfortable corner of bed or closet; grilling on the exterior walkways of the motor lodge; packing canteens with dubious alcoholic concoctions for survival purposes; hiking and exploring the decayed outback that is the Detroit waterfront, and fighting off the feral beasts that live there; and on and on. Stuff to tell the grandkids and gloss over with your parents.

Such great times with friends and family were had there; I fell in love with my husband there - we even spent our first anniversary in Detroit at another event to celebrate the connection (cheesy, but yeah).

So what happened? Did we all get old? Have our tastes changed? Have they stayed the same while everyone else's have shifted? Perhaps all the above? Either way, the change has left me with bittersweet feelings. Maybe one day we will triumphantly return to the Shorecrest, the meathole, to retake our thrones as monarchs of that fine establishment on that one extended weekend, but until then I hope it is in good hands. All that's left to do is post a nostalgic photo montage (click to enlarge - they always show a bit pixilated in here)...

Shorecrest - first year (2nd year at fest)

Exploring year 3

Great White stylings of Lank

Exploring year 3

Dancing homeless year 2

'nuff said

The View year 4

The Claw and Me, year 4

Detroit connections

Dan and me, the early years




Shorecrest baseball

Motown breakfasts

Final year - exploring

Heidelberg project

Meg, urban hiking

Attention: Chicago Weather

You = Massive Fail.

That is all.

On the hunt again

I'm not sure if I ever made a big deal about it on here, but we accepted an offer on our condo a couple weeks ago. Now, after a couple weeks of complete apathy, we are on the move again, looking for a new place to rest our hats (and bikes, and hockey gear, and shoes, and on, and on...). Tonight we apparently have about 7 showings all over the Bridgeport area, and a few more tomorrow night to boot. Hopefully something looks nice, as we'll be homeless as of June 1st. After that, it's on to rat hockey with my brother tonight at Johnny's Ice House; it's been a while since I skated there with these guys, so it should be fun.



Ran outside for the first time since last summer... needless to say, I am not in peak shape at the moment! There are many ways in which running on a treadmill is completely different from running in real life, most notably the complete lack of water, and the presence of hills, pedestrians, and bad pavement. Julie, I feel about 1 billionth of your pain (well, actually, I probably feel 1 billion times more of that pain because you're in that much better shape than I am!). It's going to be a long road, but I have a partner to run with at work now, and feel like I can tackle it - one clumsy step at a time. I think we topped out at about 3 miles and, unlike the treadmill, I had to stop a couple times to walk. Embarrassing, but it's a start.

In other news, the weather was beautiful. More of this, please!


Congrats to my husband Dan and his crew over at the Internet Rave Archive for getting their first bit of press coverage. Be sure to check out the piece on URB magazine's blog site - HERE
So head over to the archives and become part of the movement! We've got loads more mix tapes up in the music section that you can stream and download to your hearts content, but you need to be a registered user first. Enjoy.


Nugget o' fun

No, not that kind...
My team captain sent out our final stats for the season. I wound up with 8 assists, 6 goals (14 total points), and a whopping 22 penalty minutes (the 10min penalty I had against St. Louis clenched the team leader in penalties spot). Not too terrible for a defense(wo)man.

Sweet Home Chicago vs. Wanderlust

Today, a Monday, has already descended into the usual routine of work balanced with a healthy dose of escapism. I heard from a friend of mine on facebook (yeah, I know...) that I hadn't spoken to in quite some time. This friend is one of those people who works for a couple months and some random temp job, and then disappears for a year or more, somehow managing to travel the world on what little income he or she acquired in that brief stint of employment. Right now my friend is in the north of Laos, "hanging out a bit" before traveling through Vietnam and points beyond for the next "few months" - how nice. I know that I'd never be able to pull off the traveler lifestyle, but it's hard not to be just a little bit jealous reading those comments from my 8:30-4:30 desk home. This contact reminded me that a year ago today I was excitedly (and a bit nervously) getting ready to leave for a month of traveling in Peru. The wanderlust is strong in me today; shelving books about India, Bali, and Mozambique makes my mind wander even farther afield.
Back to reality now, and time to make dinner reservations. My best friend and, funny enough, my travel companion in Peru's boyfriend is leaving for a job in Hawaii, so Dan and I will be taking them out for dinner. We decided on taking him to a Polish place because, even though he's lived in Chicago for quite some time, he's never had Polish food - a fact I find quite shocking, and a little bit sad. It made me smile a bit when at the end of the phone conversation with the person at the restaurant, when I was asked for my last name the usual pause after saying 'Labovitch' wasn't met by a request for me to repeat myself. Usually at that point I need to spell my name a couple times, but for once the person on the other end repeated the name correctly in his thick Polish accent, said 'thank you,' and hung up... gotta love being surrounded by Eastern Europeans sometimes!


Update, and some thinking to be done

I received an email this morning from one of my team mates. Apparently the main culprit from our disastrous regionals weekend is stepping down from the executive committee, and the remaining group wanted to know if I would be interested in becoming a member. I emailed back that I would love to help out, but only if things were truly improved. I felt it was time to hint at the fact that I, and others, might not be back next season. I put it fairly bluntly that I couldn't see playing on the same team as this one skater because I knew that her actions that weekend were not something new, and in reality, that was the only thing about her that affected me in any way (not her shortcomings in terms of running the team). In a nutshell, I really don't want to skate with drama on the ice with me anymore.
We'll see what I get as a response. I told her that because this woman was a founding member of the team, it was of course more her right to be there than mine, and that I was perfectly happy looking elsewhere without any feelings of malice. Hopefully things work out one way or another.



Once again, Etsy comes through for me. I managed to find a really cute briefcase/laptop bag on there for a reasonable price. I love shopping on there because, for the most part, things on there are hand-made by independent artisans (you can spot the mass-produced stuff a mile away). Anyway, here is my new bag:

Click to enlarge
This from the seller named OhGosh - she seems to be extremely nice, and has been in touch already about some questions I had about shipping. Check out her store, she has some really cute bags and purses on there.

Shop around

The news I received yesterday about Denver made me realize something: I have nothing to wear in a more traditional setting. Last time I went to a conference, The Society of American Archivists, I noticed that though I had worn a skirt I still felt I was dressed inappropriately. Part of the function of this conference in Denver is to provide budding professionals with the opportunity to network with potential employers and colleagues, and even to do no-site interviews, so I know I'm going to need to dress more professionally while I'm there.
The problem is, where to begin? Ever since I entered the workforce, I've been working in environments that have gone beyond being casual. Unless you work down in the public areas, or in the administrative offices, the usual work attire here at the museum is anything you don't mind getting ruined. I have nice clothes for going out to dinners and clubs, but I own absolutely nothing that I would wear to look nice in a work setting. Needless to say, I have some shopping to do. I think this weekend I need to make a pilgrimage to Ann Taylor Lofts by my parents' place; it seems to be the only store that carries nicer clothing that actually is tailored to look right on a body like mine. So, time to bite the bullet and get something I never thought I'd own: an 'outfit.' I'm talking one of these puppies

I'm curious if I'll ever be able to pull off a look like this without looking extremely uncomfortable. I've always liked to go ultra feminine when I choose to dress up, yet business situations almost seem to demand that women dress in this weird mix of masculine and feminine in order to be taken seriously by both men and women. As for me, it's all or nothing to either extreme; I tend to be tomboyish when I don't need to look nice, and really femm when I do... this mixing of intentions doesn't seem to fit me too well. Also, the whole blazer thing tends to make me look like a linebacker! Lets hope they've learned to chill out with the shoulder pads and puffy sleeves.

Next to check off the list? The laptop/notebook/etc bag. I need something nice to carry around with me while I'm there. This, I think, will be the fun part; there are so many cool little online boutiques making bags and the like from recycled materials that I'm sure I can find what I need in a style that suits me.


Where childish team mates close a door...

awesome bosses open a window. Our library director, upon hearing that I didn't get a fellowship I wanted to attend the American Association of Museum's annual meeting in Denver, offered to use professional development funds to pay for the whole thing. How awesome! So, instead of going to PA for a weekend and playing some hockey, I will now be going to CO for a week to learn, schmooze, socialize, and enjoy a bit of the mountain air. I'm really excited!



So, the playoffs this weekend didn't go too well, but I can't say that I'm shocked. As a team, we fell apart. I guess there was a lot of stuff brewing that I didn't even know about, and it all came to a head actually during game play. I hate to say it, but that is what I could never get over about women's hockey, and what made me leave it in the first place a few years back. At least in men's hockey, if you have some personal issues in your private life, or with other members of the team, it doesn't make it on to the ice; if you feel that it might, you generally don't come out to play. Saturday, all that garbage was out there, saddled to the back of a couple of our players. This extra dead weight not only caused them to play awfully, but also became infectious and brought down the level of anyone that was forced to skate with them.
Quite frankly, I was embarrassed by the whole situation. We definitely did not deserve to win and move on. I guess now I need to start looking for another team for this fall, because there is no possible way that I can skate with people that are so completely off the mark on what it means to lead a team; a couple hollow apologies later, and I am still left with the feeling that it will only continue to get worse - it's sad that 10% of a team can ruin it for the rest.
I guess I'm glad that all of this surfaced before I committed to another season.



Don't worry Phun, I'm not stealing your thunder.
This birthday, really a birthweek, turned out to be one of the nicest I've had in a long time. I was initially kind of bummed out because it was on a week day, but as it turns out, that just makes everyone extend the whole thing because it's harder for everyone to get together on the same night.
The week started off with a bang upon receiving news that our first offer on our condo actually met our price after a little back and forth; as of yesterday, all the contracts were signed. That's right - we've sold our condo! After that, it was off to view a place we're considering renting in Bridgeport (home of the Chicago White Sox!). The place was amazing; it's an old converted church on 31st street, and it just blows my mind. Photos (not mine) are uploaded here for bragging purposes.
Wednesday, the actual main event, my friends from work took me over to the planetarium for lunch, where the food was really good, and the view was even better. I hadn't been there since I was a kid, so it was cool to see all the renovations they had done. The day seemed to revolve around food, because in the evening we Dan and I met Ben and Julie, our most favorite biking twosome, at a place called La Luce. Food there was awesome, as was the company. Apologies to all involved for getting all pouty when we couldn't get Hawks tickets, but the night ended on a good note with a nice chill session at their condo with their awesome dog, Molly.
The fun and food continued on to Thursday with a nice dinner with my brother and sister-in-law at a place called Wave. The spot was really swank and the food was lush. Some of it was tapas-style, and the rest were amazingly-prepared middle eastern fusion main courses. I'd definitely like to go there again, at least for drinks, because the view of the lake was wonderful.
Tonight we continue on with a Champagne benefit/auction for the Pritzker Military Library. Technically this is a late birthday present from me to Dan, but I am looking forward to it as well.
Tomorrow, as mentioned, we have the main event. Tuesday the week of birthday finally draws to a close with dinner with my parents at Andalous, a Moroccan restaurant that completely kicks butt.
After all this, I will be one year older, and about 10lb heavier. A big 'thank you' to everyone that made this year a good one!


Slow week, and the tension builds

So this weekend is the main event - regionals for my women's hockey team. It's been a long time since I actually played for anything that mattered; just an in-house men's league championship a couple years back, but before that, nothing until we get back to high school days. It's funny, but after all these years, I still get nervous before the 'big game.' If we win this weekend, it's off to lovely (or not) West Chester, PA. If we lose... well, I'm not going to think about that just now!
Our competition are the unfortunately-named Hericanes from St. Louis, MO. We haven't had the best record against the Hericanes, but that can be directly attributed to the fact that we've never played them with our full team. To be honest, I have no idea what to expect on Saturday. They are a very well-coached team that takes advantage of every opportunity; when we're on our game, I could say the same about us. It all depends on who shows up with what mentality this weekend; I think we can do it, but we really have to be mentally there. We have the talent by far - now we just need to have our heads in the game. Judging by how we did last weekend against Madison's Capitals (a women's B team), I think we're in pretty good shape.
Obviously more to come on this subject on Monday. Wish us luck!



Today is my big bad b-day, and I'm feeling good. It's kind of funny the reactions that I have been getting this year. For the first time ever, people have begun making the jokes about 'oh you're 15 this year,' or 'one step closer to death.' I guess I'm not there yet mentally, because creeping up on the backside of 30 isn't really bothering me yet. I'm not ready to begin evading the question of how old I am, but people have noticeably stopped asking. I'm more than willing to get my ID out at bars, but getting carded has become more rare.
I'm obviously in a point of transition, yet I haven't recognized it within myself. Am I somehow (gasp) starting to appear more mature to others, or am I just starting to look old? Same coin, different sides?
Either way, I mentally still see myself as 27 going on about 23, which isn't a bad place to be. I did a lot of living before I got to this point, so I'm not really frantically trying to cram a bunch of shenanigans in before hitting another milestone, but at the same time I'm still very much a kid at heart. I guess check back with me when 29 rolls around, but this feels like it will be a pretty good year.


Nothing much to report today

But thanks to Cornwall, UK and the Daily Mail for today's random massive fail photo sequence. It wasn't meant to be, but I found it really funny:



Now that I have your attention, perhaps I can get some help from you as well. I signed up last night to participate in the Y-ME race for empowerment which is a 5k run that takes place on Mother's Day to raise money for providing services for breast cancer patients. Check out my website here for information on how to make donations; every penny goes to helping a great cause, so donations of all sizes are greatly appreciated. Thanks to all of my family and friends who have already given; they've helped me pass my fund raising goals twice in under 12 hours - amazing.

If you're more of an ice hockey fan than a runner, you can also help my team raise money for the Stick it to Cancer tournament that we're playing in in MN. All money raised also goes to help breast cancer patients. Here is the site explaining the tournament, and here is the page where you can make the actual donation. Remember to choose the name of our team, Chicago X-Factor, so that we get credit for the donations; the team with the most donations wins in case of a tie in points when it comes to advancing on to playoff and championship games. It's a great time and a great cause, so any help would be wonderful.



Chicago da-bates bike safety legislation

Today's Chicago Tribune covers new proposals to fine motorists who put cyclists in danger by behaving recklessly. In the wake of the tragic death that occurred in the Tour Da Chicago last month, this move by Daley and company has spawned a backlash that is calling for penalizing cyclist who ride recklessly themselves. I am of the mind to agree with both sides. I may anger some riders who read this, but I do believe that we need to be more responsible on the road, both for our own good, and the good of motorists. I ride pretty cautiously, but I too am guilty of creeping through the occasional stoplight when there is absolutely no traffic, or rolling stop signs on side streets; I know I could use a reminder to keep my own safety, and that of others, in mind.
Anyway, have a look at the forum debate on that site if you want to get your blood boiling, and read the occasional well-thought-out post from both sides. While Chicago is fairly progressive when it comes to being supportive of the cycling community, it is pretty obvious that there is still a long way to go. Part of the problem, I believe, is our own fault. In trying to assert ourselves as being traffic as well, and trying to be a noticeable presence on our streets, I feel some have gone too far by being TOO aggressive. These 'crazy cyclists' as many on this discussion refer to them, seem to be how many Chicagoins see all of us as being; nutty messenger types who will cut you off, run red lights, stab your mother, all while flipping you the bird and drinking a can of PBR. Hopefully in light of recent events, and the possibility of tougher law enforcement in terms of cycling to the letter of the law, we will begin to improve our image and get the respect and courtesy on the road that we are entitled to.


To Brian

I got back on my bike today and rode; you were the reason. After last night's news, it didn't seem right to hit the snooze again to make it an even dozen, and miss riding in on this bright, clear morning. Life is too short for such a waste.
Spring is obviously around the corner - though the air is cold the sun is hanging around a little bit longer every day, and this morning the park was full of songbirds that I haven't heard in months. It made me think of summer; BBQs and baseball games, and how different that is going to be now. It might sound silly, but I wore my Thome shirt today with you in mind; I know you had fallen out of love with the Sox (who hasn't?) but it reminds me of you.
I hope you are now in a better place, and that your road there was easy. You are greatly missed.


Entertainment weekly

I am a hermit, so for me actually being able to review any kind of entertainment is a novelty of the greatest proportions. This weekend I actually made it out of the house to enjoy three different events: a live performance of Othello, a viewing of the movie Penelope, and a Chicago Blackhawks game. I am happy to report that all three were well worth my while, and did a small bit of good in that they showed me that leaving the safety of my own four walls wasn't such a bad thing. First, the play.
Othello was performed at the Chicago Shakespearean Theater at Navy Pier. I thought everything was absolutely phenomenal; it was visually pleasing, and the acting was right on the mark. I enjoyed the costuming in particular because it was done in such a way as to suggest that the story was taking place in the age of the British Empire's expansion, and I have always been a fan of Victorian dress. Of particular note were the actors/esses that played the roles of Othello, Iago, and Emilia. The entire event was intense, and completely gripping.
Penelope, on the other hand, was a bit more lighthearted (understatement of the year). Starring Christina Ricci, this modern fairytale was very Tim Burton-esque, and therefore very visually-pleasing. The storyline was pretty predictable, but not in a bad way, and the happy ending, for once, actually made me happy. I would definitely recommend this little flick for anyone looking to see something pleasant; an alteration on a familiar theme that has been done artistically and intelligently. I'm sure it would never win out in the box office against the usual animated children's fare, but I think it has a lot more to offer to that demographic, or any adult that likes a bit of escapism if people were to give it a chance.
Finally, the Hawks. They gave Vancouver a good seeing to last night, which was thoroughly enjoyable. I can't stress enough the complete 180 that this organization has done since the death of Bill W., and the taking of the reigns by his son, Rocky. Finally the team is winning, and it appears that Chicago is starting to remember, once again, that they have an original 6 team of which they used to be very proud. I hope that this trend continues, along with the strides the organization is making in terms of winning back the hearts of their alienated fan base.