Ode to The Riviera

The last time I went to a concert at The Riviera was a lifetime ago. Truly. I think it was 2004. I hadn’t even met my husband at that point.

The concert I attended? The Killers…who were baby famous at the time (remember Mr. Brightside?). The music was great but what stuck with me most was how insanely cool the venue was. I felt like I had been transported when I walked inside and looked up at the gorgeously ornate ceiling above the bar, its paint peeling off in thick, curled wedges.

It’s beautiful. It’s ramshackle. It’s standing room only. Your shoes might stick to the floor but the vibe is super chill and the bathrooms stalls are scrawled with funny quips. Basically heaven!

What I learned a lifetime ago at The Riviera was that I am a lover of small venue concerts. Sure, I’ve done Buffett and Dave Matthews shows at Alpine Valley (important: I’ve since retired permanently from Dave Matthews). I’ve sang my heart out to the Rolling Stones at Wrigley Field. I had the time of my life seeing T-Swift during her Reputation arena tour in Indianapolis. But there is something so mind-blowing about hanging out with your person, listening to incredible music in an intimate venue that resembles someone’s cool, old basement.

We saw James Bay (Electric Light tour). I was in heaven.

I had really fallen for his stuff since his debut on Saturday Night Live. As I finished the draft of my second novel, I looped some of his songs on a playlist that kept my motivation high as I typed away and edited. I knew every lyric, every chord change. His music sent me down a rabbit hole of bliss, lust, persistence, and fun- precisely what I needed to tap into as I wrote.

On the train ride home Fitz and I were recalling our favorite parts of the show. “I can’t get over The Riv,” Fitz said. “I’d go back to that place again and again.”

I just smiled.

St. Patrick’s Day, Somewhat

    • 7am Coffee and a protein bar
      Leprechaun hijinks
      M&M pancakes for the kids
      Research for kitchen lighting
      Church and high heels
      Squash soup and a muffin
      Editing for 3 hours
      575 words for a ‘How to’ freelance pitch
      A half-assed dinner with a little bit of everything thrown in
      Kids Baking Championship
      Homemade chocolate chip cookies (inspired by Kids Baking Championship)
      Meeting prep
      Dog snuggles
      Selection Sunday #iowa
      Zero green beers

    It just sorta happened this way, despite the fact that I’m a million percent Irish and have the tattoo to prove it.

    🍀☘️🍀☘️🍀☘️🍀

    Happy weekend, friends!

    City Girl Confessions: Desperately Seeking Spring

    Sunset-Green-85-by-Andy-Warhol-.jpg

    City Girl Confessions is my recurring column published via The Glencoe Anchor.

    There’s something really disheartening about checking the weather forecast and seeing single digits…again. I get that we live in the Midwest, but c’mon! The first day of Spring is slated for March 20th. How may I rejoice in the switching off of seasons if I’m still shoveling snow and wearing the same oversized sweater for the 176th time?

    I’m bitter (and bitterly cold). March really seemed like the finish line. If we could just soldier through the snow days, the blizzards, the Polar Vortex, the sleet storms, the ‘thundersnow,’ then surely we would come out the other side a bit dazed but ultimately grateful to see a patch of grass here or there.

    In this winter haze, I’ve found myself craving odd things. In walking through a Target, I stare longingly at little seedling packets and ceramic flower pots. While it’s true that I loathe gardening, I find myself desperate to do anything involving sunshine, warmth, and quality time outdoors (sans parka). I’ve even taken on extensive decluttering and reorganizing, despite the fact that the Village of Glencoe’s Spring Clean Up event is not until early May.

    Mostly, I find myself longing. I glance at the barren trees in my backyard and wonder what the branches will look like when the green leaves fill in. I wince when our garage door opens and my kids spot their bicycles, begging to take a ride down the street. I miss regular neighborhood walks with my dog (the ice-melting salt wreaks havoc on his paws).  

    I’m daydreaming of that one perfect Spring morning: the kind where we are inexplicably running early and have time to burn before the school bell rings. So we hop in the car and head east on Park Avenue so that we may sit on hard stone benches that overlook Lake Michigan. We don’t bring coats because the weather doesn’t warrant it. Maybe I sip coffee and prop up my feet. Maybe my kids point out a galloping dog or a tiny wildflower peeking through the dirt. The sun is up and out, the breeze softly whispers. It’s perfection even if it hasn’t happened just yet. 

    Confession time: we all have our moments of frustration. Sometimes we just need to yell into the void and move on, owning our deepest feelings of seasonal stress. Once we have that release, it’s almost like the world finally bends in our favor, recognizing that we are open to the newness around the corner. 

    So what’s getting me through this freezing cold week? An intricate risotto recipe. Scrabble Junior with my children. Concentrated belly breathing in yoga class. Ongoing commitment to my down coat and pom-pom hat. Documentaries on Netflix. A sense of humor. 

    That one perfect Spring morning is on its way and when it actually gets here, I’ll be ready. The bicycles will be set up, the dog leash will be in my hand, the coats will be stashed in the closet, and the Lake will beckon. It will be warm, perfect, and brand new.

    Sunset by Andy Warhol

     

     

    Happy Friday, Happy March

    Green doughnuts just seemed like the ideal breakfast option this morning (I get them right as the store opens so they’re piping hot).

    I’m working on some inclusion projects with my church and within my hometown so I was delighted to swing by Youth Services of GlenBrook. They had the most cheerful conference room, complete with whimsical, joyous paintings.

    And just in case you need to laugh, here is a photo of a jumping goat featured in an ancient National Geographic magazine from my childhood. My sister and I always found the goat’s expression hysterical, and I laughed even harder when my sis tracked down the image and texted it to me the other day. Why is silly humor the best kind?!

    Happy weekend!

    City Girl Confessions: A Local Shop In Full Bloom

    bouquet

    City Girl Confessions is my recurring column published via The Glencoe Anchor.

    It’s challenging to shop local. There, I said it. We live in an era of quick convenience. We can order things straight from an App or smartphone. With just a few quick taps, I can track a pizza delivery, queue up a latte order, tour local real estate, read reviews for a wool sweater, and place a library book on hold. 

    Would you believe that two-day shipping is now considered slow? There are literal options for same-day delivery, often meaning that what one wants right now can be delivered to almost instantly. 

    For obvious reasons, the era of quick convenience is very enjoyable. But there is one teeny part of this that is irksome- the effect that this has on small, local businesses. 

    I’m haunted by a story of a legendary Glencoe book store that closed its doors in 2016. It was a glorious shop that not only offered books but it had a secret theater in the back. I was lucky enough to see a few shows there and I’ll never forget how wondrous the concept was or how intimate the performances felt.

    When the store closed, one of the reasons cited was competition from online book retailers- that patrons would walk in, compare online pricing, and grow frustrated when the vendor couldn’t match the price of a book. 

    Here’s what I know for sure: local businesses are pillars of the community. They give us picturesque storefronts to frame our streets. They painstakingly gift-wrap our purchases. They go out of their way to order what is needed and deliver it to you in a satisfactory manner. They ask to know our names and chat with us about our children, families, or pets. Most of all, they want to see Glencoe prosper.

    During that recent holiday that celebrates all things love, I took a unique approach. I grabbed a flower vase from my cabinet and asked my husband to specifically visit The Flower Shop on Vernon Avenue. I figured if he was going to give me flowers for the holiday, it would mean much more to me if the item had ties to the community. So that’s just what he did. 

    For days, I stared at the masterpiece of florals that were assembled by The Flower Shop: roses, hydrangeas, tulips in soft shades of creamy pink and lavender. I thought about how easy it would have been for my husband to go a different direction: tap his phone and place an order. I thought about the extra effort involved- the suggestion made, the vase grabbed, the act of walking into the store, etc.. 

    I’ll confess: the extra effort is worth it. Supporting local businesses sometimes means paying a little bit more, showing up in person, or getting off of our Apps and smartphones. But that effort is always, always appreciated. Storeowners see it, residents see it, and our community reflects it. Quick convenience is pretty great, but shopping small allows everyone local to bloom. 

    Weekend: Busy Fun

    • Galentines & Valentines
    • A 7th birthday at Dave & Buster’s
    • Chocolate piñata (!!!)
    • Meetings for LGBTQ+ advocacy
    • Tulips, roses, and hydrangeas
    • Norman Love chocolates
    • A baby shower (rare these days)
    • Elton John’s Farewell tour
    • Drinking champagne three days in a row
    • A brief trip to a casino; always fascinating
    • New Member Ceremony at my church
    • Family birthday party with a Pokémon theme and a peanut butter cup cake
    • NO writing while made me crazy because I had sooo many ideas and no down time

    Did you do something busy fun? Is Dave & Busters really just Vegas for kids?! Tell me in the comments…