It is finally springtime in Chicago—more or less. It's warm out most days, but only if you're walking in the sun. My mom was recently in town and we visited the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, which is currently home to hordes of migrating birds—Chicago sits on one of the most highly-trafficked flyways in the hemisphere. I'll share some photos at the end of this!
Imani the piping plover¹ has also returned to Montrose Beach to try to mate up, or maybe just to have his own Hot Bird Summer. He was hatched at Montrose by Monty and Rose, who created a sensation when they became the first Great Lakes piping plovers (a highly at-risk species) to nest in Chicago in decades. So it's incredibly cool that Imani keeps coming back to his original home—apparently that's unusual behavior. (And these birds winter in places like Galveston and the Florida Keys, so it's amazing that they make it all the way up here at all.)
I recently submitted a short humor piece to a popular online journal. A few of you have read it and provided feedback; I am eternally grateful to you, for sharing your wisdom and, just as importantly, for your tender care with me and my work. What's more, I'm feeling thankful to every single person who's reading this right now, for supporting me and encouraging me, which you have been doing, in many cases, for an astoundingly long time.
If this journal declines the piece—which I expect—I'll probably try it in a few other places. Either way I'm calling it a success: this is really the furthest I've ever developed a piece of writing. I made it as good as I was capable of making it, and at least one beloved reader, whom I trust completely, said it was of high enough quality to be published in this place that I am frustratingly refusing to name. (I watch too much sports and am afraid I've become superstitious.)
I set an intention to finish more books this year, so naturally I started a re-read of The Baroque Cycle, Neal Stephenson's trilogy of ~900-page anvils about the dawn of the scientific era. I'm through page 600 of the first book and it's just so good. Again. Re-reading books is a super fun and rewarding experience—I don't care what anyone says. Part of the reason for my "finish more" intention is that there are so many books I'm desperate to read, and I'd love to give them all the care and attention they deserve. There are a lot of reasons I read, though, and "to be enthralled" is high up on that list. And it just seems like reading a long, involved, beautiful thing is even more enthralling for me the second time (and the third...).
I'm also making my way through Jenny Odell's Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond the Clock. Fans of her first book, How to Do Nothing, will find even more to love here. She excavates so many ways that our culture has finagled and corrupted time into an abstract concept that serves business and wealth, to the detriment (to put it mildly) of humans and our planet. And not in a super depressing way, although there is plenty to be sad about. The reading experience of the book is meditative and communal, like you're sitting next to Jenny Odell on a very long train ride, watching the countryside drift by, and she's just telling you stories and showing you things out the window. Her outlook is rooted in realistic optimism, which is also my own stock in trade.
Honestly? It's mostly reruns of The Simpsons and Law & Order. And the NBA Playoffs. I'm going to talk about those for a second, so skip the next (three) paragraph(s) (whoops) if you're one of those "sportsball" folks. (Look for the star ✶.)
Alright, good, now that we're alone, my fellow junkies, I can tell you about the joys of not having a team. The NBA is the only sport/league in which I never ended up with favorite team. I spent a lot of time trying to settle on one—no longer. I've fully embraced teamlessness. It is so freeing! For example: I'm actually pulling for the Lakers right now. For a neutral, this is arguably the most likable team they've fielded in my lifetime.
But if they lose? I won't spare it much thought. The highs of teamlessness are less high than, oh, I don't know, if the Kansas City Chiefs (hypothetically speaking, of course) won two Super Bowls in four years with the most dynamic and thrilling QB-head coach combo in NFL history (yeah, I said it). The lows, though, are so much, uh, less low. (See: Royals, Kansas City.)
(I've lived in Chicago for almost five years, so you'd think I'd be rooting for the Bulls by now. Absolutely not. I'd love nothing more than to feel something, anything, for them, but they don't make it easy.)
✶ Also, the trailer is out² for part two of Dune. I felt extremely ambivalent about the first one, for reasons which I won't go into right now, but I'm still pretty excited about this.
There's this new-ish very synthy kinda-punky band called Nation of Language that I've been telling everyone sounds just like The Cure—because that's what I do now, I look for bands that make new music that sounds as much as possible like old music. Anyway, it's great and I love their new single.
Nation of Language — "Weak In Your Light" (Spotify)
On the other hand, I heard the new Portugal. The Man song on a Taco Bell commercial, and it's a banger. So I am still capable of responding to that to which the kids are hip. (Not that anybody who's actually hip would phrase it like that.)
Portugal. The Man — "Dummy" (Spotify)
Not actually at Montrose Beach, but this was such a cool view.
This is the protected portion of Montrose Beach which is now closed to the public so that Imani can have plenty of space.
The Montrose Beach pier.
This awkward teenage Cooper's hawk randomly showed up outside our window. Very majestic. Not pictured: the dead pigeon in the alley below, on which it proceeded to go to town.
¹Follow Chicago Piping Plovers on Twitter, Instagram, etc. if you're interested in keeping up with the story.
²The Dune: Part 2 trailer.