Hello everyone, T2SEY5W9EXFQ
I hope your winter solstice and whatever holiday celebrations you participated in were wonderful and refreshing. I participated in my church's Advent celebrations. This was exciting because this was my first Christmas at this church and as a member. I could probably write an entire blog entry about what it means to be a member of a church, but what's important about it is that by becoming a member of this church I'm beginning to sink my proverbial roots into Chicago. I knew since my second semester here that I wanted to make my residency in this city a permanent one. My church meets in one of the largest historical Polish parishes that was sold in 1993 to Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago. That means that during Advent the altar looks a little something like this:
This picture doesn't do it justice, especially since I took with my phone camera. You can't tell from this image, but the church is actually lit almost entirely by natural light with a few small bulbs to illuminate the side aisles above the pews.
I was so busy with the last two weeks ( known as Hell Week and Writing Week) that I hadn't been to church in a few weeks. When I resumed my regular attendance I got so many comments from pastors and acquaintances who I met in my membership class about my hair that I suddenly realized how many people didn't know what had happened.
That's about a week after I originally shaved my head. It took me four razor blades and four hours to remove all 14 inches of dreadlocked hair. I learned that baby oil is very important and that when shaving your head you should always make sure you have plenty of shaving cream on hand. I ended up knocking on my neighbor's door to get some when I realized that the baby oil I had bought as a lotion would not work to help shaving my head. A big part of the problem was that I did not plan ahead of time to shave my head. I just had a moment of clarity and realized it was time to shave it.
Now that winter break is coming to a close, IIT, VanderCook, and Shimer students are trickling back to campus (or Chicago for those who don't live on campus), I'm beginning to contemplate how I spent my break. I worked 40 hour weeks at my desk job for IIT and then picked up a few hours at Shimer as the face of the IT side of Operations. My job at IIT can be very dull which is great when I'm working from 03:00-06:00 because I can get a lot of my class readings done without being disturbed and I'm getting paid. What am I supposed to do when I don't have any readings for class? Read for fun, of course! Last year I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins along with the other two in the trilogy. It was the natural choice for me since the movie was coming out soon and I hate watching movies based on books unless I've read the book first. This year The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien came out in the film adaption, but I had already read the book quite a few times. I decided to pick up a book I had read once before in my sophomore year of high school, Eldest by Christopher Paolini. You may not recognize the book, but if I mention Eragon that might ring a bell. Eldest is the second book in the Inheritance Cycle with Eragon being the first, Brisingr the third, and Inheritance the fourth and final book. I read Eldest, Brisingr, and by the end of this week I will have finished Inheritance.
Do you know what happens when a violin and guitar really love each other? They make a mandolin. I've been playing guitar on and off since I 13 or 14, but didn't start taking it seriously until about a year and half ago. As my musical interests expanded beyond rock and metal, I began to take a serious interest in folk and bluegrass music. On my mother's side, I have Irish heritage and distant relatives who are so immersed in making music that they could film their daily lives and they'd have folk musical right there. When my mom met them for the first time in New York, she called me all excited-like and said we had a lot to talk about. To her, meeting these distant relatives explained something I had figured out in my days when I was the drummer for an angsty teenage band called The Unchained: my family is very musically inclined even if we never tapped into it. I'm not sure why this came to a surprise to my mom; after all she's the one who put me in glockenspeil lessons before I had started Kindergarten, but I have digressed from my main point.
That beautiful little thing sitting on my lap is the fruit of my labor over winter break. I named my mandolin Ollie (Oliver) and refer to it as my guitar's little brother. Why a 20-something dude like me still anthropomophizes his instruments into familial relationships is a question for someone beyond my pay-grade. This break has given me a lot of things to think about and a lot of time to do that thinking. I've had more time to practice playing my guitar (which I named Tanya, a black Ovation). I've had the time and freedom to go on a date and explore some parts of Logan Square I hadn't seen when I was last there over the summer.
This Spring semester I begin my third year at Shimer. I am excited, a little nervous, and really thankful that I had the time to rest and relax beforehand. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bag of salt and vinegar chips calling to me and episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine queued up.
Until next time,
P.S. - I kept seeing this graffiti around Bucktown and wondered what it was all about. I took it the same day I took the picture of the altar at my church.